Welcome to ASCEND Group

Hello Everyone, 

We know this is a particularly difficult time for you and your family. This is an extraordinary situation that we are all trying to cope with. We are providing this list of resources in this e-newsletter that we hope will be of assistance to you during this time.

As you know, Autism Awareness Month is commemorated in April, and we have created a calendar of activities that are being offered in the Philadelphia region next month. However, at this time we are unsure how many of these events will be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. We will share the calendar with you as soon as possible. 

We hope you and families remain safe and healthy.  


Elena Perri
President, ASCEND Group


Resources for Homeschooling 

Resources for All

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has created a COVID-19 update and FAQ webpage here. For specific health-related concerns not addressed here or by the CDC, you can contact the Greater Philadelphia Coronavirus Helpline at 1-800-722-7112.

Effective immediately, Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) is suspending non-payment terminations and waiving new late payment charges, learn more here.

Comcast is providing free internet access for 60 days through their Internet Essentials program. Learn more here.

If COVID-19 is impacting your employment, you may be eligible to receive assistance. Learn more here.

If you're interested in volunteering to support COVID-19 response efforts, you can find opportunities here.

Philadelphia Mental Health Center (PMHC), a non-profit agency providing various services to families. During this quarantine time, Telehealth services are offered to provide support to families and participants. Program Coordinator: [email protected] Agency website: www.pmhccares.org 


Phila.Gov food link with interactive map for anyone, even if you are accessing school meals.

Emergency food and diaper services in Philadelphia.

Urgent Care Centers in Philadelphia if you have symptoms of COVID-19.



Self-Advocates United as 1 (SAU1) is holding conference calls to share information, resources and provide a forum for people to discuss concerns regarding COVID-19. You can join the calls by computer at https://zoom.us/j/624794330 or by phone: dial (646) 876-9923, then your meeting ID: 624 794 330 #. Learn more about the calls here.

Up to two shelf-stable meals for youth are available at these schools Monday through Friday, from 9 AM - 12 PM. Select Philadelphia Recreation Centers are functioning as meal sites from Monday - Friday, 2 - 6 PM. Only meals will be provided during that time. There will be no structured activities. Learn more here.

Social Story about COVID-19 by Amanda McGuiness.

Social Story about COVID-19 by Pediatric Therapeutic Services.

UNC Team Creates Online Toolkit for Those Supporting Individuals With Autism During COVID-19 Epidemic.

Supporting Individuals with Autism through Uncertain Times

ASERT Coronavirus Health & Safety Guide

18 Tips On How To Cope With Children During Quarantine by Bianca Miller Cole for forbes.com

Behavior Analysis and Therapy Partners are also providing telehealth services for kids in our ABA and IBHS programs. If interested, contact Joe at 610-664-6200.
Communiverse Offerings:

Send us your questions and follow up on social media. E-mail us, text us, and call us with any questions you may have during this time. We will address all questions through video content on our social media pages:

Instagram - @Communiverse

Twitter - @CommuniverseLLC

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/CommuniverseTherapySolutions/

LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/company/communiverse-llc/

Kristina Vacha, LCSW, is providing tele-therapy during the quarantine period in the form of individual and group sessions. She will waive the fee for each client's first individual session or group session.
As some people are facing financial challenges during this time, she is offering behavior support/therapy at reduced rates based on your financial situation. If your child or adult child has a state waiver, the agencies should be allowing your assigned behavior therapist to provide teletherapy for the duration of stay-at-home order. This is currently being offered by the Devereux  CARES Community Adult Autism Partnership Program (CAAPP ).
If you are a parent working from home, you should be able to set up online therapy with your regular therapist. If you don't have a regular therapist, your employer may be able to match you with a therapist providing online therapy through your Employee Assistance Program.
If you feel you need support and are not sure how to proceed, Kristina is available for a free phone consultation.
Kristina Vacha, LCSW
484-274-8957,  [email protected]
BCBA for Helping Hands Family provides in-home and in-clinic ABA services to children with Autism. Our clinic is located in Malvern, PA but is closed at this time. Even though our clinic is closed, we are available for home services. If we can help you with requests from displaced clients or, on a very temporary basis, with your own services, please reach out. Council for Autism Service Providers (CASP) has confirmed that we are considered an essential service at this time and are taking all precautionary measures to ensure the health and safety of all. They continue to provide guidance on the best ways to provide these necessary services during this time.
We can provide temporary or ongoing support to children with either in-home services or through tele-health. We also are able to do intake and carry out initial assessments for children who have an autism diagnosis and need to start receiving ABA services. These services are paid through private insurance and can begin immediately. For more information, call 610-316-5902 or email:  [email protected].

 PaTTAN- Pennsylvania Training and Techinical Assistance Network offers these supports:


In the best interest of all patients, family members and staff, NeurAbilities Healthcare has temporary closed our offices but continues to provide the services you need.  All of our staff are now working remotely to treat patientsschedule appointments and answer any questions. We are providing telemedicine services for many of our services, including Behavior Consultation and Training for parents in NJ and PA. We understand that some children may not be receiving their routinely scheduled behavioral services and would like to help.

Please call 856-346-0005 or email [[email protected]] to contact us for scheduling or general information.


Deborah Morris
P: 856-346-0005 x1212  F: 855-266-6180 E: [email protected]

Activities To Do From Home 

8 Things to Do While Under Quarantine from Psychology Today.

Sister creates app to help brother with autism make friends. 

Planet Fitness is committed to continuing to provide you with healthy and safe alternatives to keep moving. We know the best way to stay healthy is to stay active, especially now.

Exercise can reduce stress, help you stay healthy, and keep you feeling great. So, we're offering  FREE in-home workouts , live-streamed daily, for all Planet Fitness members and non-members alike. Workouts will be led by our trainers and  surprise celebrity guests .

If you miss the live class, you can come back and watch it later. No equipment needed, and classes are 20 minutes or less.

Headspace Meditation Free Meditations

There are a lot of unknowns in the world right now. But one thing is certain - Headspace is here for you. To help support you through this time of crisis, we're offering some meditations you can listen to anytime.

These are part of a larger collection in the Headspace app - free for everyone - called Weathering the storm. It includes meditations, sleep, and movement exercises to help you out, however you're feeling. It's our small way of helping you find some space and kindness for yourself and those around you.

Sprout Film The only distributor of films exclusively featuring people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

We continue to add amazing films featuring people with IDD to our Sproutflix catalogue. If you would like to view the latest additions.


To improve the lives of individuals
     and families in the Greater Philadelphia area impacted by Asperger Syndrome
and Autism through connections,
community and support.

 ASCEND Events: 



Bridges to Independence 
Presenter: Dr. Alan Schnee

Location:St. Joseph's University,Connelly Hall, Room 120, Merion Station, PA 19066

In this 90-minute program, attendees will learn why teaching young children to identify and solve problems can open doors to independence, improve academic skills and reduce challenging behaviors. Attendees will leave with an understanding of: 

  • How solving practical problems leads to both Independence and engagement
  • The use of schedules: Toward greater independence and language acquisition
  • What we can do to improve memory/ executive functioning
This presentation is geared toward younger children (under 10).

Cost: FREE for ASCEND Members (up to three people); $5 per person for non-members

Join ASCEND for only $45 a year for families.

Register here.


Alan SchneeDr. Alan Schnee is a clinician, author and public speaker on effective autism intervention for young children. He has been working with children on the spectrum for almost 30 years. For 10 years, he ran a center-based autism intervention center in Northern New Jersey and has now moved his work here to Marlton, NJ to meet the unmet needs. He studied under ABA pioneers at Princeton Child Development Institute, and with Dr. Bridget Taylor from the Alpine Learning Group in Bergen County. 

Non-Verbal Communication & Social Communicatio
n Workshop

WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION: Social communication occurs in the home, school, work and community and with a variety of people.  Additionally, social communication rules vary depending on every social context across the landscape of humanity.  How very confusing!  People with social learning challenges and their communication partners will benefit from this workshop.  Susan Paul, a speech/language pathologist and founder of Communiverse® will arm you with strategies to foster positive relationships and functional communication strategies in this interactive workshop geared toward people of all ages.

Please note new date: 
Tuesday, April 21 from 7:00 - 8:30 PM 
The Greater Plymouth Community Center, 2910 Jolly Road, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462

Register now.

Cost: FREE for ASCEND Members (up to three people); $10 per person for non-members
Join ASCEND for only $45 a year for families.


Susan PaulSusan Paul is an American Speech-Language-Hearing Association certified speech/language pathologist with over 35 years of experience. She attended the University of Maryland and received her bachelor's and master's degrees from Temple University and received her teaching certificate from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 

As a private practitioner, Susan has consulted with preschools, schools, and early intervention programs, and has provided individual and group therapy for people of all ages.

In her group private practice, Communiverse®, she and her associates pride themselves in fostering effective and functional communication techniques by utilizing the most recent research, and a team approach, while drawing on individuals' strengths. In her capacity as an expert in the field of autism, Susan was featured on Friendly Neighborhoods, a cable television program produced by La Salle University. 

Susan has presented workshops to both professionals and laypeople on the topic of autism, social communication, early child language, and learning and literacy development.


Game Meetup (Cancelled)
This event is for kids age 10 to 17, and we will have Legos, board games, WII video games, Nintendo DS and other video games, foosball and air hockey. We encourage participants to bring their favorite games to share and for parents to stay and socialize. Light refreshments will be available.

Last Sunday of the month
How to find us: The Social Enrichment Center has moved to: 216 South Orange Street in Media. Parking available.

Chips, Chocolate and Chat Adult Social Group 

A group of adult self-advocates who with the help of a facilitator, discuss topics chosen by the group. Topics that have been addressed include dating, co-workers, break-ups, meet-ups, interviewing for jobs, etc. In the past, we have had a few guest speakers who have addressed the group as well. 

Attendees: Adults on the autism spectrum, ages 18+

Sun., April 19 from 4-5PM (CANCELLED)

Upcoming Dates:
May 17

The location of our monthly Chips, Chocolate and Chat gatherings has moved to JCHAI’s Schwartz Campus in Bryn Mawr. Click here for directions to our new location.


 Discussion Group for Caregivers

Runs simultaneously but in a different room than the adult social group.
Attendees: Caregivers of adults on the autism spectrum

Sunday, April 19 from 4-5 PM (CANCELLED)
New location: see above.

ASCEND Professional Events

Our Newest ASCEND Organizational Member: NeurAbilities

NeurAbilities Healthcare is the premier provider of neurological and neuro-developmental services in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, offering comfort, hope and answers that transform the lives of individuals of all ages, and their families.

Our Mission- To transform the lives of neuro-diverse individuals through precision medicine, behavior sciences and therapeutic treatments with compassion, dignity, and respect.

Our Vision- To be the leading provider of comprehensive and coordinated neurological, behavioral, and therapeutic services.

P: 856 346 0005 F: 855 266 6180

NeurAbilities Healthcare is a provider of neurological, neuropsychological (including biopsychosocial and ADOS assessments), ABA services and other behavioral consultations, and therapeutic services in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. 
Open house Come & Play: For adults and their children. Come learn about our interdisciplinary approach. We provide comfort, hope and answers that transform the lives of neuro-diverse individuals of all ages, and their families.
Thursday, April 4th from 9 AM-12 PM at Neurabilities, 170 N. Henderson Road, King of Prussia

 Upcoming Workshops

Our complimentary workshops are focused on empowering and educating families who have dependents with special needs giving them clear, actionable information that can be used to understand and build a responsible financial lifestyle. Our small and interactive seminars will be led by popular financial speaker, Pat Bergmaier, and will provide a comfortable setting in which attendees can learn how to take control of their present and future financial planning. As a follow-up, individual meetings may be scheduled to focus on your personal financial situation without distraction.

Interested in hosting a workshop for your families? Should your employer be offering something similar? Please reach out to Pat!

 Family and Peer Support Group Meeting:

Your Dependent with Special Needs - Making his or her Future More Secure Presented by Jeffrey L. Slavich, ChSNC, Financial Adviser

Topics will include: 

  • Government benefit eligibility  Guardianship and conservatorship/guardian ad litem
  • Financial security and funding options 

Can't make it? Dial in to join us LIVE on ZOOM. Contact [email protected] for a ZOOM invitation

 Ongoing Professional Groups

Surviving and Thriving

A group where parents of children with autism can find connection, inspiration for parenting and self-care, and lots of support! Free childcare provided with advance registration. Scholarships available!
A Step Up Academy, 2450 Hamilton Ave., Abington, PA 19001
Saturdays from 10 - 11:30 AM: April 18 and May 16, 2020. (Possible postponement due to COVID-19)

 Ongoing Groups

Autism Spectrum Diagnostics and Consulting's LET’S GET M.A.A.D. (MANAGEMENT OF OUR ANGER, ANXIETY, AND DEPRESSION) 

Group Difficulty regulating one’s emotions not only impacts the individual’s mood and well-being but also his/her ability to socialize with others effectively. This group will focus on helping group members identify their emotions including bodily sensations and triggers and how these emotions negatively impact their ability to connect with and socialize with their peers. Group leaders will facilitate the learning of more effective coping skills for managing emotions in difficult and stressful situations as well as learning how to better connect and maintain relationships with peers. 
The group consists of 8, 1 hour per week sessions; members will be grouped based on their age, language abilities, and goals for the group. 
2) Teen Boys Group

Teen Boys/Young Adult Social Encounters and Relationships Group at Autism Spectrum Diagnostics and Consulting in Doylestown, PA.
The group will focus on a variety of topics pertinent to Teen Boys and Young Adult Males on the autism spectrum and/or with social emotional difficulties including: nonverbal communication, maintaining reciprocal conversations, dating and relationships, use of social media, consent, etc. 

3) Lego®-based Social Skills Group 

Openings for Children ages 5-6, 7-8, 9-10, 11-12, & 13-15

Children will be grouped by age, language abilities, and social skills goals. Lego®-Based Therapy, or Lego®-Club as it called by group members, is an evidenced based treatment where children develop skills through collaboration on group projects through the use of Lego®. Group members collaborate on building sets, free style projects, and creating and producing short stop-action films. Children with ASD, ADHD, anxiety, and other social challenges are welcome! 

Adult facilitators provide feedback and coaching in real-time targeting skill development in the areas of cooperation, problem solving, reciprocal conversation, joint-attention, and flexibility leading to increased maintenance and generalization of skills to other settings. Most importantly, Lego®-Club becomes a place where children identify with a peer group, build friendships beyond the confines of the club, and find a place where their peers and adult coaches understand, encourage, and celebrate their talents. 

Groups will be run on Monday afternoons/evenings for 1 hour per session for 8 sessions.

Contact Dr. Brittany Lyman at [email protected] for more information.

Mike Fogel's
 Art of Friendship

 Social-Coping Skills Groups are currently enrolling girls, boys and co-ed groups between 4-18 years old in Paoli, Haverford, Plymouth Meeting and Center City Philadelphia.  Social-coping skills groups are designed especially for the social developmental needs of teens between the ages of 12-18. Girls-only and boys-only middle school and high school groups are available. Mike Fogel's Art of Friendship Social-Coping® Curriculum (also used at Camp Pegasus) launches participants on a "Reputation Project" with perspective-taking and the hidden rules of socialization at its core. 


Kristina Vacha's Groups
Kristina Vacha, Clinical Social Work/Therapist, LCSW, LBS, MSS, MA

Kristina Vacha, LCSW, is providing tele-therapy during the quarantine period in the form of individual and group sessions. She will waive the fee for each client's first individual session or group session.

As some people are facing financial challenges during this time, she is offering behavior support/therapy at reduced rates based on your financial situation. If your child or adult child has a state waiver, the agencies should be allowing your assigned behavior therapist to provide teletherapy for the duration of stay-at-home order. This is currently being offered by the Devereux  CARES Community Adult Autism Partnership Program (CAAPP )

If you are a parent working from home, you should be able to set up online therapy with your regular therapist. If you don't have a regular therapist, your employer may be able to match you with a therapist providing online therapy through your Employee Assistance Program.

If you feel you need support and are not sure how to proceed, Kristina is available for a free phone consultation: 484-274-8957,  [email protected]

1) MeetUp Group: Movie Meetup
Kristina Vacha, LCSW will be facilitating a movie meetup once a month at the Movie Tavern in Exton. This group is appropriate for individuals who are college educated or current college students and who can attend independently.  An initial consultation at my office is required before attending events or groups. This group is for adults with autism who are interested in increasing social connections and addressing issues related to living as an adult on the spectrum. 

2) Anime Club for Adults on the Spectrum
If you are an adult on the spectrum or know one who might be interested in being part of an anime club, join our meetup group.

Join meetup.com (it's free!) and search for https://www.meetup.com/Autism-Spectrum-Connections/ to send a request to join.

3) Adults on the Autism Spectrum Group
This group is a therapeutic support group where you can talk about your experiences as an adult with autism. We address concerns with social isolation, developing more meaningful relationships with others including improving family dynamics, developing friendships and dating, succeeding at employment or education, coping with anxiety and depression, improving self advocacy and developing a better understanding of the autism diagnosis. The group is for adults ages 25 and up who are employed or enrolled in higher education. More about this group

4) Spouses & Partners of Aspies / Autism Support
This group is for adults who are married or in a relationship with an adult with autism spectrum disorder. The group will discuss experiences, offering opportunities to support each other, to vent as needed and to share positive experiences as well.

5) Adult Support Group
This group is for adults on the autism spectrum who are struggling with feeling stuck in significant areas of adult life. If you would like to be working but are currently unemployed or underemployed, socially isolated, unsure about how you would like to become a more independent adult, use or hope to use state funded adult autism services, then you may find this group helpful. More about this group

6) Women with Autism
This group is for women with autism 25 years and up. Whether diagnosed in childhood or recently this group will give you a place to meet other women and talk about your experiences as women living with autism. This group is targeted for women who are employed and/or pursuing higher education. More about this group

7) Delco Bowling Group 
This group is for adults on the spectrum 21 and up who are independent in the community. There is a $10 fee to attend plus each individual will pay for their own games/shoe rental. Kristina Vaccha will be present to facilitate the group.

If you or an adult with ASD you know is interested in this group (or in one of the other groups Kristina meets with) please contact Kristina: [email protected] or 484-274-8957.

I am a good listener and will give you time and space to share your concerns. I specialize in supporting transitioning teens and adults with ASD and parents/caretakers. I offer a comprehensive strengths-based approach that also utilizes evidence-based interventions to address issues related to anxiety and depression, life transitions, family and relationship dynamics, self-advocacy, work/employment, co-morbid mental health issues, healthy lifestyle, independent living, contact with law enforcement, and sexuality/dating. I work across the spectrum including nonverbal individuals to high functioning professionals.

ASCEND Group Membership Levels...Membership options that make sense

As a nonprofit organization, we depend solely on the support of our members as
we work to fulfill our mission to raise public awareness about AS and related disorders, advocate for improved education and services, and provide support and information to the Asperger and autism community.

Access to some of the content on this website is available only to subscribing members. Various membership options and benefits are shown below:

Member Benefits include:

  • Free admission to one or more meet-ups. Our meetups this year have been:
  • Free or discounted registration for ASCEND webinars and educational sessions.
  • Posting of events, research, camps and groups (organizational members only)
  • Referrals (organizational members only)
  • Invitation or join our professionals elist (listserv) for message posting (organizational members only)
  • Inclusion in our Membership Directory (optional and available only to member families)
  • Invitation to join our families e-lists (listservs) for message posting (member families only)
  • Access to our Members Only "Cybrary" containing: Autism & Employment Networking &  Interviewing Webinars, SAP: Autism at Work Session Recording,  College Panel Night hand-outs, Key Considerations and Concerns for Teens with ASD,Preparing Students with Disabilities For Life After School and the Workplace Presentation, Emotional Regulation, Living in an Instaworld and our e-newsletter archive (all members)

ASCEND Individual Membership $25/year

ASCEND Family Membership $45/year

ASCEND Organizational Membership $160/year

Need to Pay
by Check?

 Print out this membership form in Word format and mail in your payment to: 

ASCEND Group, Inc., PO Box 2097, Media PA 19063

GIFT MEMBERSHIPS: Give an ASCEND Membership as a gift to a loved on or colleague. Select one of the new membership options below, and indicate during checkout that the membership is a gift. Please note that you’ll need to have enough of the recipients contact information on hand to complete the required fields for their member profile.