After I left Horizon Academy, I went to Johnson County Community College for three years, and I got a job as a retailer at a grocery story. After going to JCCC, I was accepted into the University of Central Missouri’s THRIVE program which is a two-year residential program for students with intellectual/developmental disabilities to teach them independence. After finishing THRIVE, I became a full-time student at UCM and a junior majoring in Cultural Studies.
The most important things I learned from Horizon were good writing skills, test-taking strategies, and reading non-verbal social cues and predicting other people’s reactions to what I say and do, which some people with autism have trouble with. This helps me learn from others and remain in control of fulfilling my obligations. Horizon’s emphasis on advocating for my needs and respecting my condition and myself is also among the most important things I have learned. Today what I miss the most about Horizon is the close relationships and feeling of belonging that I had with the teachers, staff, and students. Thankfully I still have the chance to stay in touch with them and apply what I learned from that sense of community in my own environment.