KOLD HEROES: Man helps students on autism spectrum - Tucson News Now

KOLD HEROES: Man helps students on autism spectrum

Joe Cox is the first student to live and take the classes at Chapel Haven West while going to school full time at the University of Arizona. (Source: Tucson News Now) Joe Cox is the first student to live and take the classes at Chapel Haven West while going to school full time at the University of Arizona. (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

From chasing breaking news to a small quiet apartment complex near the University of Arizona, Ken Hosto made a career move that’s changing the lives of young adults who are struggling to gain independence.

"I've learned things like how to clean my own apartment, how to cook, how to get out of the building in case there's a fire," one resident said.

All these skills were a big challenge for Joe Cox before coming to Chapel Haven West.

"I was not very confident and I was looking to expand my social circle but I didn't really have the options to do that,” Cox said.

It’s a place where students on the autism spectrum can feel at home.

They’re learning social skills and how to relate to others.

Cox says when he needed someone to believe in him, Hosto was there, and his life is forever changed.

"First of all, he's helped me because he has given me the skills I need to go out into the real world and to be a functionally independent young adult," Cox said.

Hosto is the executive director at Chapel Haven West.

"Someone can fold their socks with them, go grocery shopping with them, and those things, but no one can really give other people good thoughts about us. We're the only ones that can do that," Hosto said.

Hosto and his team do that every day for students just like Cox.

His position is much different from his former job as a news photographer, but it was a change that hit close to home.

"I saw my sister raising a son on the autism spectrum and trying to make his world as normal as it could possibly be, and he is this amazing young man that is living in Denver now,” Hosto said.

That’s exactly what Hosto wants for his students: an amazing life full of purpose.

"All of those small pieces add up to the whole of this really cool life that I want to have for myself and that's what we want for our students,” Hosto said.

Cox is the first student to live and take the classes at Chapel Haven West while going to school full time at the University of Arizona.

“That's what has made Joe as successful as he's been through the university, friendships and those kinds of things,” Hosto said.

It all serves to remind Cox to not look at autism as a disability but just a part of who he is.

"I consider that it is what makes me, me. It is what makes me unique,” Cox said.

"We're helping these young adults just be the people who they want to be and they're able to be now. That's really cool,” Hosto said.

For more information on Chapel Haven West, CLICK HERE.

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