It’s been a long journey to get where I am now – successfully beginning a career in accounting, feeling at home in New Haven, having good friends, and feeling a lot more confident in myself. I grew up in Santa Barbara, California. Many people have asked me why I would come to New Haven and leave beautiful and sunny Santa Barbara. The ASAT program definitely made the move worth it! I owe a lot of my success to the ASAT program and to my parents, but mostly to my hard work, determination, persistence, and strong desire to improve and succeed. I am thankful that ASAT has helped me prepare for my career, and I’ve had success in jobs. I know I will have a happy and successful career, because I have become skilled in tax preparation, and I have improved my interview skills and success with interacting with co-workers and clients. When I graduated from California State University, I had no confidence that I would ever find a job, and now I know that I will find a job and be successful.
A graduate of the ASAT Program who recently earned his college degree at Gateway Community College and who has had a steady job at Quinnipiac University: “We just see such a change in him. Chapel Haven has taught him to listen and even if he is not engaged, give facial expressions indicating that he is listening. Whereas before he would just walk away, he can sit at the table now at Thanksgiving and Christmas, where there are 20 people at a table, and engage in conversation.” Increased confidence and self esteem has helped Zach live an independent life. “He goes to his doctor’s appointments by himself. He knows the New Haven transportation system better than some people who have lived there a long time, which again, goes back to self confidence. He can get anywhere he wants to.
My eye contact has improved. I show interest in other people. I am more empathetic toward friends. I have improved in my ability to terminate conversations appropriately and initiate questions in conversations. I did not know how to add or drop a course. I took the wrong classes and did not know how to ask for help from the Disability Resource Center. I did not know how to watch for cues, which professor I should pick, or who would be appropriate to my needs. Now I am able to advocate for accommodations. I’m able to talk to my professors and access resources like the campus writing center, the technology lab, and career services.
The focus on social communicative competency has meant a world of difference. My son has learned how to listen and, even if he is not engaged, give facial expressions indicating that he is listening. Whereas before he would just walk away, he can sit at the table now at Thanksgiving and Christmas, where there are 20 people at a table, and engage in conversation. Before the SCC approach, her son would attempt to enter conversations by asking over and over, “Do you like pizza?” “He would have zero timing on that. It would be disconnected from anything going on and he would interrupt. As he has gained competence, he has become confident enough to go up to a group, listen, and comment on what is being said—and his timing has improved.