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.
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.
Popular college choices include:
Southern Connecticut State University (www.southernct.edu): an easy walk or bus ride from campus; one of four universities in the CT state system
Gateway Community College (www.gatewayct.edu)
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 explore various fields through group community service projects, individual volunteer opportunities, internships and paid employment. They 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.
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. Students may work in paid or unpaid positions and not all students decide to work during the two-year program.
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.
ASAT residential students and graduates are also eligible to apply to Project SEARCH, where they spend a year at Yale-New Haven Hospital, rotating through three different hospital departments with coaching and instruction by Chapel Haven’s Project SEARCH team. Chapel Haven is the first agency in Connecticut to have Project SEARCH, a national initiative which 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.
A key component of the ASAT program is engaging socially and building friendships. Beginning students plan at least four social activities a week. Especially in the residential program, recreation activities mean far more than just having fun—they foster social competency and the ability to make improved social judgments. Also stressed are the skills of time management, money management and the responsibility of remaining within a schedule. Movies, shopping trips, baseball games, a night out at a restaurant or nightclub, taking in a theater production or visiting museums are just a few examples of the activities offered.