Many typical college freshmen find it challenging to balance the transition of living on their own, taking classes and possibly holding down a job – but not Nathan. This bright, talkative 19-year-old is doing all this and more. “I just stick to my schedule and it works out ok,” says Nathan who was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder when he was two. He became a client of Boone County Family Resources in 2012.
Working with his support team, an individual plan was developed for Nathan that connected him with an autism specialist at Easter Seals Life Skills whom he credits for getting him ready for the next stage of his life after high school. Nathan meets weekly with his autism specialist who assists him with improving self-care and daily living skills as well as provides academic supports to improve his English skills needed for his college classes.
“I’ve seen his confidence grow as he grew his skills,” says Holly Estrem, Nathan’s support coordinator at Boone County Family Resources. “He really seems to be thriving in his new role as a college student.”
After completing his first semester of classes at Moberly Area Community College this winter, Nathan says he liked it, “but it was hard work.” For his second semester, he’s added a third class and says things are still going well. His favorite class so far is his psychology class “even though there is a lot of homework.” His plan is to take it each semester at a time. Nathan takes advantage of free Wi-Fi at McDonald’s to work on schoolwork when he needs access to the Internet and manages his time well. He would like to study criminal justice or laboratory technology once he’s completed his general education requirements.
In addition to attending classes and completing schoolwork, Nathan was hired by the City of Columbia’s Care Awareness Related Experience (C.A.R.E.) program to work at Columbia Mall. “I like having a job because I like to get paid,” says Nathan. “I’m saving up for a new PlayStation.” Nathan works on the maintenance crew three days a week where he assists with picking up trash and keeping the food court area neat and clean.
Nathan enjoys living in his own apartment because he’s close to everything he needs. “On warm days, I ride my bike to my classes and get my exercise in all at the same time,” says Nathan. “I am also close to my job and the park.” He is looking forward to a time in the future when he’ll be ready to also manage care for his dog, Ellie, in his apartment. “Right now, I just have too much going on and I’m not home enough to take good care of her,” says Nathan. “But hopefully soon she can be here with me.”
When he’s not busy working and going to school, Nathan also enjoys watching movies, playing video games and visiting his mom on the weekends.
One thing is certain, with Nathan’s determination and the support from his family and individual plan team, he truly seems well on his way to a bright future.