Yale Child Study Center will present an all-day seminar on Sunday, April 22, 2012, entitled, “Moving On: Preparing Students with Autism, Asperger’s and Learning Differences for College,” and Chapel Haven is delighted to be a featured part of the day.
This all-day seminar is for high school students, parents, teachers and others on Sunday, April 22, 2012 at Harkness Auditorium, 333 Cedar St., New Haven. To learn more and to register, please click here
Topics will include:
. Prospects for College Admission
. Finding the Program That’s Right for You
. Transitional Programs
. Social and Communication Supports
. Supporting Academics: Organization and Other Aides
. Achieving Independence: Life Skills
. Mental Health and Other Supports, Legal Issues and Mandates
. Parent Perspective on College: Advice for Parents
. Coping with Stress
. Parent Perspective on College: Advice for Students
. Academic Supports, Organizational Strategies, and Time Management
. Social Skills and Life on Campus
. Panel Discussion with Students Who Have Successfully Transitioned
Among guest speakers will be Michael Storz, president of Chapel Haven, and Ginny Hodge, Vice President of Autism Services at Chapel Haven.
The Yale Child Study Center has provided invaluable help to Chapel Haven in creating its Asperger Syndrome Adult Transition Program. Dr. Fred Volkmar, Director of the Child Study Center, and Dr. Ami Klin are on the program’s advisory board.
Students in all three of Chapel Haven’s residential programs are student stars. Enjoy these features from the REACH, Asperger Syndrome Adult Transition and Chapel Haven West programs.
Spotlight on Success:
Student Government Leaders in the REACH program
If only the United States Senate could come up with compromise solutions
with the speed and intelligence of Chapel Haven’s student government
team. The six REACH program student representatives have in about seven
months become a powerhouse of a voice for other residents and
problem-solvers beyond the expectation of their advisors.
“These guys surprise me every week… The leadership skills they’ve gained
already are fantastic,” said teacher and student government advisor
Alicia Earnesty. “They shock me each and every week. I’m baffled by
their great ideas. They really think out of the box.”
Case in point: There was a problem in computer lab with students who didn’t
have headphone sets turning up the volume on speakers and disrupting
others. The student representatives considered imposing restrictions or
some kind of penalty for those who violated the rule, but instead
decided to buy headsets for all the computers with money they had
“I really love the solution,” said Matt Tietjen, Supervisor of REACH. “It’s helping all of the population, those bothered by the noise and those who want to listen.” The student representatives are: Uncas Austria, president (far right in photo); vice-president Drew Baum, 21 (second from right); Jesse Kesner, 23 (center); Alex Heckler, 22 (not pictured); Dan Caplan, 22 (second from left); and Andrew Ehrlich,
21 (far left in photo).
So far, in addition to addressing quality of life issues, the group has
held an anti-bullying campaign week that included making and selling key
chains, a dance, pie social and held activities that include a movie
night, complete with popcorn; a Halloween party; scavenger hunt;
barbecue; giant carnival. They’ve donated money raised to an
anti-bullying group and the representatives even attended the annual
conference of People First of Connecticut, a statewide self-advocacy
group for people with disabilities.
Uncas said being in student government has bolstered his leadership skills
and given him a great feeling because he’s helping others. “I get to
help with change,” he said. “If I saw something out there and I thought
it was wrong, it couldn’t be addressed.” The student government idea
actually came from Uncas while they were at a resident meeting. “We were
talking about what’s going on and I said, ‘Maybe we should start a
student government,”‘ he said.
Two months later, it was reality. Now members of the student government engage other students to encourage them to talk about what’s on their mind. They bring issues back to the weekly meetings where the reps all contribute their own
unique perspectives. They are considering a forum to allow other
students to speak at their meetings. “The level of presence it has in
the school has definitely gone beyond my expectations,” Tietjen said.
All the student representatives are relishing their roles and bring a
strength to the table.
“I am very smart and this has helped me come out of my shell,” Rep. Jesse said. “Whatever ideas come to my mind,” he shares.
Rep. Alex is strong in the party planning department. “I’m an
actor actually and during government I make plans for parties,” Alex
Vice-president Drew said, “I find when you are in a group you’re
challenging yourself and can reach beyond.” Or as he boiled it down:
“Six brains are better than one.”
Spotlight on Success:
Chapel Haven West second-year student enjoying community college classes and two jobs!
Jamie Rabinowitz says his parents always set high expectations. And that apparently paid off because today Jamie has surpassed that gold standard. This second-year Chapel Haven West student, 21, has the distinction of being the first student to hold down two volunteer positions and the first to work four days a week. In addition, he’s taking a college
credit-earning social communication class at the University of Arizona alongside his fellow CHW students and a 200 level college history course at Pima Community College — the third course at Pima Community College for Jamie.
Rebekah Witten, Supervisor of Chapel Haven West and overseer of the vocational
program, said Jamie is very open minded about trying new things. She
said he’s always on time and never calls out sick. “He’s ready for competitive employment,” she said. “He does an incredible job in the work study program…He’s dedicated and has a definite buy- in to the program.”
Life at Chapel Haven West for the last 18 months has been good to Jamie, he said.
“It’s helped me a lot with different independent living skills, with money and I’ve made more friends than in high school,” he said. One
of his volunteer jobs is at a college bookstore where he helps with maintenance and folds and straightens clothes. Jamie caught on so fast that he doesn’t need a job coach there anymore. “My co-workers are pretty nice if I need help with something,” he said. His other job is at Pima Animal Care Center where he walks dogs and plays with cats (pictured in photo below, at left).
That job’s a little harder for him, not for want of skills, but because it makes him want to adopt a cat! “It’s very hard for me, especially with
the cats because I want to adopt one as a stress animal. A cat would be
easy and teach me responsibility,” Jamie said.
He made an instant connection with a tabby cat, Morris, probably because, “I found his weakness or where he liked to be petted.” Jamie also took a
shining to a grayish black cat, Horace, whom he describes as “playful and friendly.” Never
having had a pet, Jamie found it difficult at first to figure out which dogs are pullers and/or jumpers. “I’ve been learning to put a leash on a dog,” and deal with cleaning up after the dogs, Jamie said, adding the
latter is his “least favorite part.”
Aside from the social communication class, and the functional academic
classes that Chapel Haven West teaches at the SALT Center on the campus
of the University of Arizona, he is also taking a second semester of
classes at Pima Community College, his favorite being a course “History
of the Holocaust.” Jamie said he finds that class particularly fascinating because of his Jewish heritage and a more personal connection. “Some relatives on my dad’s
side died in the Holocaust,” he said. He noted that he’s quite familiar
with Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Jamie isn’t sure yet what he’ll do with the general studies degree he’s
working for, but indicated he has plans beyond anyone’s expectations.
“It’s an interesting experience to be on a college campus,” he said. “I’m
around a group of students my own age and I can observe how they act.”
When he’s not working or studying, Jamie loves to “surf the internet,” hang
out with friends at Chapel Haven and go on excursions with those
friends, including the many recreation trips offered.
Spotlight on Success:
New ASAT student blossoms, spreads infectious laugh
and a love of animals
Don’t be fooled by Chrissy Putnam’s quiet demeanor. Chrissy, 19, a first-year
student in Chapel Haven’s Asperger Syndrome Adult Transition (ASAT)
Program, who came here from a rural part of Connecticut, has received
this month’s student spotlight award for her goal-setting, dedication,
drive to succeed and openness to trying new things.
The other humorous, emerging social side that keeps her busy on Facebook and
texting, is just icing on the cake for those who know and love Chrissy
best. “Although she initially presents with a quiet demeanor,
she has a great sense of humor and can often be seen laughing along with
some of her friends over inside jokes,” said Chrissy’s student advisor,
Deanna Bonaventura. “Chrissy particularly enjoys sarcasm and unexpected
happenings…and when she laughs it spreads cheer amongst both staff
Chrissy is known to be super responsible. She was one of the first in her class to get privileges to access the community by foot and also with bus privileges. She was the first in her class to get privileges to access the community by foot and the first to get bus privileges. She’s also known for the ability to budget money, always
saving something in times when others are running out of cash. That’s a
skill Chrissy said she learned from her family.
One of the reasons for Chrissy’s success, instructors say, is her constant drive to succeed at the next level. “Chrissy worked diligently to increase her participation in conversations with Chapel Haven peers and staff and she willingly participated in social skill-building activities which were uncomfortable for her,” said speech
and language pathologist Sarah Davison. “Chrissy demonstrated an
enormous improvement…in just a few months as a first year student in
the ASAT program.”
Program assistant Caryn Anquillare said Chrissy has formed nice relationships with peers, even buying Christmas gifts for two of them. “In social activities she might be quiet, but she always participates and never complains,” Anquillare said. “I think she has been doing tremendous work on trying to come out of her shell.”
Although she hails from a rural part of Connecticut, Chrissy loves cities such
as Boston and New York. On a personal level, living in the city has been
great, she said, because it affords more independence with perks such as
access to bus lines. There’s also that side that likes the excitement. While not quick to toot her own horn, Deanna didn’t hesitate to do it for Chrissy, telling of how she recently planned every aspect of a student trip to New York City to see its famous Christmas trees.
An animal lover with three dogs (see Lia in photo at left) and seven cats at home, Chrissy is a woman who knows what she wants in the future: “I’d like to work with
animals in a doggie daycare.” Chrissy said it’s the unqualified love dogs give that she likes most about them. For now Chrissy gets her animal fix by volunteering at the North Haven Animal Shelter on Sundays,
helping to feed and clean up after the animals. She also socializes
with the cats. Chrissy said she enjoys Facebook because, “It’s an easy way to talk.”
She enjoys the television shows, “Glee,” and “Vampire Diaries,” and her
favorite musical performers are Katy Perry, Adam Lambert and Lady Gaga.
Chrissy has many positive qualities that make her shine in the student
spotlight, or as Deanna sums it up: “Chrissy is phenomenal. We love
Congratulations to Ariana Habib, a community member who is part of the Asperger Syndrome Adult Transition program, for having a letter she wrote about the needs of families published in the New Haven Register. Ariana’s letter was published at the height of the holiday season, on December 23, 2011, and carried the headline, “Even rich state not free of hunger.”
Ariana wrote, “Hunger is a very serious issue, even in a state as affluent as Connecticut. I had a firsthand look when I volunteered at the food pantry run by Jewish Family Services and at the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen. Families are lacking basics, including food and toiletries, and I also observed that food pantries are struggling to find food that is kosher, low salt, low sugar or low fat. I noticed that many seeking help from food pantries speak a language other than English or Spanish. The majority I met while volunteering spoke Russian, and there was not one worker who could communicate with them in that language.
Many food pantry clients do not get food stamps, although they qualify – likely because of a language barrier. The helping organizations are not always able to confirm a client’s eligibility for help. All this adds to the growing hunger issues in our state. It is critical for people in Connecticut to donate to food banks, which provide help to community organizations and soup kitchens. During this holiday season, I would urge everyone to think about those less fortunate to consider helping.” Congratulations, Ariana!