ASAT Program Overview

Chapel Haven’s ASAT (Asperger Syndrome Adult Transition) program offers a wide range of services to adults with Asperger Syndrome, high functioning autism and related social disabilities.

Please explore this section of our website to discover all that ASAT has to offer, from transitional housing with individualized supports to day and weekend services to social communication therapy to targeted help with college and independent living.

ASAT Areas of Focus

Chapel Haven offers instruction and expertise in four key areas:

  • social communicative competency              
  • self-determination
  • independent living
  • supports for college and work

The focus of the program is to assist adults in developing independent social competencies across all settings, as opposed to simply treating behavioral symptoms and providing transactional supports and behavioral interventions.

The ultimate goal of the program is to help each person develop a broader repertoire of social competency and adaptive skills across multiple settings and with diverse populations. Community integration is a pivotal component of the program and the Greater New Haven Community offers a wide range of opportunities in the areas of social encounters, recreational activities, academic institutions and vocational training.

The ASAT program measures individual progress using a comprehensive curriculum-based assessment tool. Meetings with the student’s support team are held after an initial assessment period and then at regular intervals. Progress is measured against our benchmarks for transition.

Here is a more indepth explanation of the four curricular domains:

1. Social Communicative Competencies (SCC)

The ASAT program is nationally unique in its focus on social communication. The SCC curriculum was designed by a team of experts and centers around a core component of social communicative competency (SCC).

Living in an apartment with roommates, managing an academic schedule and transitioning into productive and meaningful work, all require that students compromise, solve problems, and advocate for their needs.

This highly important curriculum area provides opportunities for:

  • Development of appropriate interpretation and use of nonverbal communication, such as facial expressions, gestures and physical proximity, in a variety of contexts and settings;
  • Instruction in receptive language skills, developing the individual’s ability to respond to information that is presented both visually and auditorially;
  • Demonstration of increased expressive language skills in a variety of contexts, including but not limited to speech clarity, speed, phrasing, the correct use of formal and informal language, figurative language, irony, metaphors and non-literal language; and Development of perspective-taking theory of mind skills is the cornerstone of the social communication curriculum.

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2. Self-Determination

The second component of the curriculum which is blended into all instruction is self-determination.

This is an individual’s awareness of personal strengths and weaknesses, the ability to set achievable goals and make choices, to be assertive at appropriate times and to interact with others in a socially competent manner.

These skills are taught by aiding the individual to identify his own emotions, needs, interests, and values as well as to develop an understanding of his strengths and limitations.

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3. Independent Living

Transitional Housing 

Some individuals may benefit from living in apartments on the Chapel Haven campus, with private bedrooms and shared common space. They receive individualized staff supports to help them further develop the day-to-day skills necessary for independent living. Such supports may include: menu planning, grocery shopping, budgeting and banking, meal preparation and apartment maintenance.  This program is ideal for adults who are capable of managing their daily and overnight needs without 24/7 direct oversight, but with access to staff on call if needed.

The housing is centered in two multi-family apartment buildings, where participants live in two- and three-bedroom apartments, each person having a private bedroom. The buildings, all located within the same block, are adjacent to Chapel Haven’s main campus. Much of the teaching is done in settings in the community, but participants also receive instruction in classrooms located in the Bershaw-Boswell Community Center on campus.  

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4.  College / Vocational Supports

A fundamental goal of the ASAT program is to help our adults prepare for careers and college. Our approach is highly individualized. For some students, the college environment will offer the opportunity to sample classes and perhaps matriculate; for others, exposure to vocational opportunities may be a priority. Some adults come to Chapel Haven with some degree of college already completed. Our location in a college town supports many choices in the area of college, vocational and professional studies.

Post-secondary Options

The ASAT program’s location in historic Westville Village means students are only two miles west of downtown New Haven and close to several colleges and universities. Working closely with staff, students may register for and begin attending local colleges, with tailored support in the areas of executive functioning, planning and time management. Students can choose among several choices in a college town. ASAT offers an optional social communication class through the Communications Disorder program at Southern Connecticut State University, for which they earn a college credit and develop social skills while interacting with typical college peers.

Popular college choices include:

  • Southern Connecticut State University ( an easy walk or bus ride from campus; one of four universities in the CT state system
  • Gateway Community College (
  • University of New Haven (

ASAT helps students learn how to:

  • use academic and system survival skills,
  • use advocacy skills,
  • make social connections both in and out of the classroom, and
  • benefit from opportunities to explore accommodations that are beneficial.

Vocational Students in the ASAT program participate in a wide range of activities to prepare for successful employment. They may explore various fields through group community service projects, individual volunteer opportunities, internships and paid employment. They may also participate in coursework and individual discussions designed to help them to identify career paths that may match their interests, skills and post-secondary ambitions. Staff teach social competencies necessary for the workplace, taking advantage of teachable moments as they arise. Levels of employment assistance vary based on individual needs, from 'behind the scenes' support to maximum assistance locating vocational opportunities and on-site job coaching.

A new Center for Employment Services and Opportunities at Chapel Haven is also helping ASAT individuals gain competitive employment matched to their areas of interest.

ASAT staff assist students in seeking employment opportunities by establishing contacts and developing relationships with local employers, community members and organizations. Staff may act both as advocates and liaisons, working to broaden the understanding of Asperger’s Syndrome and related disabilities, and providing proof of the positive attributes of such working relationships to potential employers.

To achieve the goals outlined in this area of the curriculum, the student works on resumes, interview skills, identifying sources for career education and exploring volunteer work. He/she also explores postsecondary settings (college, adult education, trade/technical school, military service, etc.) by completing the necessary applications. The student is taught how to determine financial need, to locate financial support, to use academic and system survival skills and to use advocacy skills and make social connections both in and out of the classroom. The acquisition of these skills leads to success in academic and/or vocational settings.

PAVE Opportunities/ASAT

ASAT students and graduates are also eligible to apply to PAVE. Chapel Haven offers two PAVE opportunities, both of which offer excellent vocational readiness training in authentic settings.

PAVE provides adults who wish to prepare for competitive employment with authentic work experiences and a robust vocational curriculum. Through internships in true work environments, participants are fully immersed in the workplace, acquiring marketable job-specific and transferrable skills. Each participant is placed in a position that suits their interests, abilities, and career goals while also allowing for the opportunity to explore a variety of career paths.

PAVE at Yale-New Haven Hospital

PAVE at Yale-New Haven

Qualified ASAT candidates may spend a year at Yale-New Haven Hospital, rotating through different hospital departments with coaching and instruction by Chapel Haven’s PAVE team. This experience teaches participants valuable skills such as learning to work in a team, understanding the rules of the workplace and sampling job functions in a variety of hospital departments.

Participants spend a year volunteering side by side with hospital staff, and are held to the same standards expected of any employee.  The goal is to help them gain job skills, learn to work as part of a team, understand the rules of a workplace and be better positioned to move into paid employment.


PAVE at Whelen Engineering

PAVE graduation @ Whelen

Chapel Haven also offers a PAVE program at Whelen Engineering in Chester. PAVE provides adults who wish to prepare for competitive employment with authentic work experiences and a robust vocational curriculum. Through internships in true work environments, participants are fully immersed in the workplace, acquiring marketable job-specific and transferrable skills. Each participant is placed in a position that suits their interests, abilities, and career goals while also allowing for the opportunity to explore a variety of career paths.

At Whelen, a work-based learning specialist/special education teacher provides support to the participant and workplace mentors, with the goal of fading out once job skills are mastered, allowing participants to utilize natural supports in the work environment. The departments that students can consider at Whelen include: Aviation Manufacturing, Product Assembly, Sales, and Order Entry. The company was founded in 1952 by George W. Whelen, in his garage in Deep River, CT. Whelen Engineering is now a global leader in the emergency warning industry, designing and manufacturing reliable and powerful warning lights, white illumination lighting, sirens, controllers, and high-powered warning systems for Automotive, Aviation, and Mass Notification industries worldwide. Whelen has the largest design staff in the industry and over 1,500 employees.

This program was created in partnership with ASAT and the Center for Employment Services and Opportunities.

“This program addresses a critical need,” says Gina Apicella, Director of ASAT. “Adults with autism spectrum disorder continue to face an employment crisis. Whelen is committed to encouraging a workplace of inclusion and highlighting individual talents.”

Social Recreation

The ASAT program offers a range of social activities on evenings and weekends that individuals living within Greater New Haven can enjoy. From enjoying sushi at a downtown restaurant to taking in a movie, going to a festival, enjoying cultural offerings in the New Haven area or gathering to plan a trip into NYC, weekends are an ideal time to make friends and spend leisure time with a wonderful circle of adults friends. All recreation activities are client-directed. Some are chaperoned by staff, others are independent. To learn more, inquire at

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ASAT Day program

Chapel Haven offers a day program, both for students 18 years of age to 21 who are supported by their local school districts and individuals finished with high school and looking for a structured day experience.

The ASAT day program offers:

  • Social communicative competency instruction with a certified Speech-Language Pathologist; (Individual and group sessions), with social communication infused throughout daily activities
  • Self-determination
  • Problem solving and asking for help
  • Decision Making
  • Goal Setting
  • Independent Living
  • Cooking
  • Learning to use public transportation
  • Learning to manage money –how to manage a bank account and budgeting for programmatic needs
  • Learning how to navigate the community
  • Employment preparation and readiness
  • Social skills training for the workplace
  • Support to initiate college coursework is available, if the PPT determines this is a goal (i.e., help with executive functioning, time management and accessing supports in the college setting)

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Community Outreach Services

The Asperger Syndrome Adult Transition (ASAT) Program at Chapel Haven provides an array of services to support individuals with Asperger’s and related diagnoses to live increasingly independent and productive lives.

Our Community Outreach Services program involves a menu of services available to both our graduating residential students, and adults living within the Greater New Haven area who aren’t residential students but can benefit greatly from our a la carte services. Learn More >

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