A consulting team from Chapel Haven, which included Michael Storz, President, and Virginia Hodge, Chapel Haven’s Vice President of Autism Spectrum Programs, spent a year helping the agency understand the “intricate nature of Asperger’s and the challenges young adults often face as they transition into adulthood.”
The agency credited Chapel Haven with helping to grow the AACES (Asperger’s Awareness, Community Education and Support) program from a single service socialization program, serving 25 individuals, to “a comprehensive program with four additional components focused on employment, post-secondary education, parent support and life skills instruction.” The program has grown to serve 125 individuals.
Staffers remarked that the staff trainings provided by Chapel Haven were invaluable. “As an old timer in the field of mental health, but a newcomer to the Asperger’s world, I found the support offered by the Chapel Haven team to be invaluable. The training sessions provided a foundation for understanding the major issues of Asperger’s, including: theory of mind, emotional regulation, executive functioning, communication differences and sensory integration. Ginny and Mike enriched me both professionally and personally and I am grateful for their efforts.” Continue reading
Carolyn Gorman, coordinator of post secondary and career education for the Aspeger Syndrome Adult Transition (ASAT) program, offered a class this fall that turned out to be one of the most popular career classes for students.
Entitled “Tales from the Trenches,” this Wednesday afternoon class brought guest speakers into the classroom to talk about their first jobs and the paths they took to their eventual vocations. Some students signed up thinking the class might be about video games or World War II history but they weren’t disappointed when they discovered what it was really all about. Even students who did not enroll in the class dropped by as more guest speakers came in to talk about their first jobs and how they settled on their eventual career paths.
“It was one of the best career classes I’ve been a part of just because the students were actively involved and interested,” said Carolyn. “They took it seriously and I felt they really did get a real-world understanding of things like balancing the need for a paycheck against loftier career goals. They really got the difference between having a job and creating a long term career plan.” Continue reading
When the staff at Chapel Haven needs an IT guy to troubleshoot a computer problem, they don’t have far to go. “If there’s an emergency, I’m just up the street,” said Josh Liebeskind, a 2010 graduate of Chapel Haven’s Asperger Syndrome Adult Transition (ASAT) program and now a part-time employee at Chapel Haven who sets up staff accounts, new computers and solves any IT-related problems. “If I fix something quickly they’re amazed. I don’t think it’s that hard,” Josh said.
Josh is among the successful graduates of ASAT who are living independently and succeeding in the workplace. Six years into the program, the ASAT program’s effectiveness is evident in the graduates who choose to stay on, move into the New Haven community, continue on with college studies and work, and enjoy an adult community of friends and peers.
Zach Delman, another program graduate, has found a niche these last four years working as a surveyist at the renowned Quinnipiac Polling Institute in Hamden. Zach, who brings strong reading skills and good manners to the job, is the guy who calls to ask Connecticut residents questions on a variety of topics that, in recent months, have been all about the U.S. Senate and presidential races.
“It keeps me busy. It gives me something to do,” he said, adding, that he enjoys the staff and his co-workers. The job also motivates Zach to stay on top of current issues. “I’m really catching up on politics,” he said of the polling season. Continue reading
Project SEARCH: New Employment Initiative
Chapel Haven is in its second year with Project SEARCH, a national one-year, high school transition program for students with disabilities that provides training and education with the goal of obtaining competitive employment. The program was developed at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 1994.
“Our partnership with Yale-New Haven Hospital is helping Chapel Haven adults gain real-life work experience and training at the hospital for an extensive period,” said Michael Storz, President of Chapel Haven.
Storz credited Michael Dimenstein, who serves on Chapel Haven’s board and is Vice President of System Compensation and Benefits at Yale-New Haven Health System, and several others with bringing the new partnership to fruition.