77ºF

UNF's THRIVE program helps students with autism

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The THRIVE program at the University of North Florida is giving students with Autism Spectrum Disorders a chance to succeed beyond the classroom.

From new roommates, new classes and a new sense of freedom, many students struggle when it comes to adjusting to college life. For students with autism, it can be even more of a challenge. 

"For me, I intensely focused on my academics when I first started at UNF, I did my homework and after that I felt burnt out and I didn’t know where socializing would fit," said Robert Rittenhouse, THRIVE student. 

That all changed thanks to THRIVE, which stands for "Transition to Health, Resources, Independence, Viable careers and Education."

"It’s helped me with career skills because it’s given me the confidence that I can take initiate, that I can lead and also, I have experience doing that now," Rittenhouse said. 

It’s the only free program in northeast Florida that focuses on helping ASD students grow social, career and living skills -- like cooking.

It’s more than a club because it allows them the opportunity for personal growth and experience a sense of calm that can be hard with learning disabilities.

The volunteer-based program also allows students to give back to the community, by teaching their future employers.

To learn more about THRIVE, visit unf.edu/drc/thrive.