Classroom skills make dad the perfect teacher
IT TAKES a dedicated dad to give up his career to look after his child.
But that's exactly what teacher Gareth Bowen did in order to care for his son William, who suffers from autism.
Gareth, from Weston Park, near Longton, used to teach full-time but has only taught for half-a-day a week at Moorpark Junior School since 2009 because six-year-old William needs almost constant attention.
But he has made the most of his skills, turning the garage of the family home into a classroom where he tutors William.
Panasonic Store Camera•20x Optical Zoom LEICA DC Lens from 24mm...View details
What Digital camera Gold award winning DMCTZ40
SAVE £20 off our store price ONLY with this voucher
Plus you can also claim a SD card or spare battery
Choice of colours, free parking behind store
Terms: Print this voucher and hand in at Panasonic Store Hanley to save £20 off our store price ONLY £269.90
Contact: 01782 342609
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Gareth, aged 40, said: "I've basically given up my career now and family matters take up the lion's share of my time.
"William's programme has mainly been about developing his social skills and I've been running things day-to-day for the last three years."
And William is already enjoying the benefits of his father's dedicated care.
Gareth added: "His progress has been outstanding.
"He used to be totally unengaged with people but now he gives them hugs and kisses.
"He now has a 150-200 word vocabulary and is becoming extremely sociable."
As well as teaching William, Gareth, who also has a daughter Jessica, aged four, takes care of his son's health issues.
He said: "I'm in charge of medication and William needs about 20 medicines a day.
"And, because I don't work, it's my job to get up in the middle of the night if there is ever a problem."
In a bid to arm himself with as much information as possible to help his son, Gareth even travelled to America, with wife Sarah, in 2009 to investigate alternative therapies for children with autism.
While there he teamed up with the Son Shine School of Autism, which has given him help and support in tutoring William.
Gareth said: "We've been able to put together a curriculum for educating him at home that we learned on the trip.
"I've used a lot of teaching techniques that we picked up over there as well."
It was Sarah who nominated Gareth for The Sentinel's Dad of the Year competition ahead of Father's Day next Sunday.
Sarah, aged 39, said: "He's been absolutely instrumental in William's education.
"Gareth takes William when he's misbehaving so I can spend a bit of time with Jessica, but that's all part of living with autism."
And she revealed Gareth has grand plans for the future and wants to open a school for children with autism in Stoke-on-Trent.
She said: "A lot of parents speak to Gareth and ask him for advice about how to look after their kids and he's been planning, with the local authority, to try to open a new school to assist other children with the same problems."
Sarah has increased her hours working as a teacher at St Peter's Catholic Primary School to allow Gareth to spend more time at home.
And he makes sure dinner is ready when Sarah gets home from work.
Sarah added: "When you're a parent you go to the ends of the earth for your children and I know that's certainly the case for Gareth with both William and Jessica."
Nominate your dad for the chance to win a day out at Trentham Gardens and a meal for a family of five.
Who is your dad of the year? Email firstname.lastname@example.org