Community Teaching

One of Benhaven's Mission indicators is that people with autism and related disabilities will "participate in community life."

Typical community settings offer a useful and healthy context for learning and support since we think our students should have opportunities to live, work and participate in enjoyable and meaningful activities in these settings. We know that many with autism may have difficulty generalizing skills learned in one environment under a certain set of circumstances to another setting.

 With that in mind, opportunities to learn skills in the environments in which they will be needed are provided to students across the week. For some students, it begins with traveling safely. This is an important first step: without safe behavior in a vehicle, community teaching can not take place.

For some of our younger students, information is gathered from families about places that are difficult for them given the needs of their child, such as going out to dinner as a family or running an errand. Goals/objectives are developed, and we begin to teach those skills, sometimes taking baby steps. As students get older, the variety of reasons to access the community and time spent in the community increases.

Students might learn daily living skills in the community, such as grocery shopping; leisure skills, such as hiking or rock climbing; fitness skills, such as working out or taking a class at the local YMCA. Students' IEP's reflect these learning opportunities.


Vocational training is also addressed as appropriate. 

 The community in which we live, work and go to school is so rich with opportunities to learn skills that earn our students respect from other community members, including:

  • making their own selections in stores
  • communicating (sometimes through augmentative means) with co-workers, customers, cashiers, etc.
  • developing and using good hygiene habits
  • being aware of public safety and community norms
  • respecting the privacy, comfort and property of others
  • acquiring such valued attitudes as promptness and reliability
  • having jobs in real work settings

Community instruction is an important component of most of our students' IEP's, and very often, is an area where they excel and experience real happiness.



187 Half Mile Road
North Haven, CT 06473

Administrative Offices

tel (203) 239.6425
fax (203) 239.1318