Welcome to ASCEND Group


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: 



ASCEND Group's 2019 Autism Acceptance Calendar of Events


Chips, Chocolate and Chat: ASCEND's Social Gathering for Adults on the Spectrum

This is a gathering of adults who may be interested in connecting with other self-advocates. While staff are available to help facilitate, participants will collectively guide the nature of the group and how they may like to see the group evolve from a gathering moving forward. Instead of becoming a therapeutic group, this group is intended to provide opportunities for connection and discussion among participants, possibly leading to additional activities based on common interests.
Sun., 5/5 from 4 - 5 PM
Ruttenberg Autism Center
1740 Walton Road, 1st Floor

Blue Bell, PA 19422
Attendance is free but please RSVP to [email protected]

Discussion Group for Caregivers of Adults

This free group for parents/ caregivers will be held in a different room but at the same time as the adult group session, Chips, Chocolate & Chat.
Sun., 5/5 from 4 - 5 PM
Ruttenberg Autism Center
1740 Walton Road, 1st Floor
Blue Bell, PA 19422
Attendance is free but please RSVP to [email protected]


Parent Social

This event is for parents of children on the autism spectrum who would like to meet other parents to socialize, exchange ideas and just relax. Feel free to bring a favorite dessert, appetizer or snack. We will provide coffee, hot tea and water. Free but registration required on meetup.com (it's a free site)

Saturday, April 27th at 7 PM  at Social Enrichment Center, 542 Wesley Rd., Springfield, PA 19064.


*Free Gamer MeetUp for Tweens and Teens

(Video games, board games, Legos, foosball & air hockey) 
Hosted by Elena Perri and Terry Peura from the ASCEND Group
*This event is free but RSVP through MeetUp.com  is required as space is limited. Once you join (it's free!) search for ASCEND Group. 

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 provided.

Sunday, 4/28 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM (Every last Sunday of the month)
Directions: Social Enrichment Center, 542 Wesley Road · Springfield 
How to find us: The Social Enrichment Center is located at Hancock Methodist Church in Springfield. Entrance has red doors. We fill up fast so please RSVP to reserve your spot!

 Save the Date! Key Considerations and Concerns for Teens with ASD Presentation

ASCEND Group in coordination with Dr. Brittany Lyman, PsyD, and Reggie Candio, NCSP, PsyD of Autism Spectrum Diagnostics and Consulting will discuss how being a teenager in today’s world is challenging. This is even more pertinent for teens diagnosed with ASD. This presentation will cover topics that we as clinicians see as problematic for our teen clients at our autism specialty practice. Some of the topics that will be discussed include: understanding and accepting one's diagnosis, combating anxiety, depression, and social isolation, the importance of self-advocacy, navigating social media and technology, and dating and sexuality.

Monday, May 13, 2019 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. Plymouth Meeting Community Center 2910 Jolly Rd, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462
Cost: Free for ASCEND members; $10 for non-members (up to three family members) Registration link coming soon!

ABOUT OUR PRESENTERS: Dr. Brittany Lyman, PsyD, and Reggie Candio, NCSP, PsyD are on the staff of Autism Spectrum Diagnostics and Consulting in Doylestown, PA.

Dr. Brittany Lyman, PsyD, is a licensed clinical psychologist who provides evaluation, therapy, and consultation services to individuals impacted by autism spectrum disorder (ASD). She conducts comprehensive diagnostic, psychoeducational, and neuropsychological evaluations of children, adolescents, and young adults assessing a variety of learning differences, attention and executive functioning, and/or the impact of psychological, behavioral, and/or emotional conditions on the individual. Dr. Lyman also provides individual and group therapy services to individuals across the life span. In line with the philosophy of the practice, she takes a strength-based approach to both evaluation and treatment and strives to create a relationship with the individual and family that includes trust, respect, and acceptance.

Reggie Candio, MS, Ed.S., NCSP, is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist and educational consultant who also holds credentialing in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. He is a doctoral candidate at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, with training and expertise in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, social skills instruction as well as psychoeducational, clinical, neuropsychological and vocational assessment. Aside from his work as a clinical and educational practitioner, Reggie has served as a developer and director of treatment programs for supporting the unique social, adaptive and transition needs of adolescents and young adults on the autism spectrum.


 Ongoing Groups:

Fick Educational ServicesFick Educational Services: New Social Groups Forming
Fick Educational Services will be forming new social skills groups for the New Year! If your child struggles to make friends and could use some practice with teamwork or coping skills, consider a social skills group at FES. We form groups based on need and age and will tailor activities to suit the child's needs. Call us at 610-457-2199 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 Cognition Social Skills Groups with a focus on play (i.e. theory-of-mind, perspective-taking, hidden rules of socialization plus developmentally appropriate play)
  • Social Cognition Social Skills Groups with a focus on conversation (i.e. theory-of-mind, perspective-taking, hidden rules of socialization plus developmentally appropriate conversation skills)
  • Self-Regulation & Impulse Control-Focused Social Skills Groups
  • Anxiety-Focused Social Skills Groups
  • Frustration, Anger & Problem Solving Focused Social Skills Groups
  • Victims of Bullying & Resilience Focused Social Skills Groups
  • Girls Groups
  • Adolescent Group
Contact: Admissions Coordinator, Debbie DeBenedictis, at 610-649-1080, ext 1.

Autism Diagnostics
Autism Spectrum Diagnostics & Consulting: Tech-Based Vocational Skills Group 

Research has shown that individuals with ASD can not only perform proficiently in the workplace, they can do so independently if the job matches their personal strengths and capabilities and specific job tasks are taught to mastery. The goal of this group is to not only develop participant proficiency in technology use, but to also teach key "soft-skills" such as; job searching, understanding workplace norms, routines and etiquette, social communication at work and workplace problem-solving skills.

If interested, contact Reggie Candio at  
[email protected]
Adult Social Groups

Kristina Vacha, LCSW, LBS, MSS, MA Applied Behavior Analysis, Therapist, Behavior Support Specialist is forming an ongoing therapeutic support group for adults on the spectrum ages 25 and up. The purpose of the group is to talk about your experiences living as an adult with ASD and to discuss topics the group is interested in like employment and dating. Cost is $30 to attend. This group is appropriate for adults who are employed and or pursuing higher education. RSVP, completed registration form and facilitator approval are required to attend.

Kristina is also forming other therapy groups: https://www.meetup.com/Social-Steps/ 

Contact [email protected] or 484-274-8957

Research Studies

In the interest of promoting autism awareness, we feel it is important to help spread the word about autism spectrum research studies that are being conducted in our area. For the first time, we are giving individuals and organizations the opportunity to advertise their research studies in future ASCEND e-newsletters and on our website, for a nominal fee without first becoming ASCEND members. Use this Research Study Form to submit your study. 

The Family Experiences with Wandering Study
The purpose of the Family Experiences with Wandering (“FEW”) study is to improve the medical community’s understanding of why wandering behavior occurs and how to prevent it. Compensation for your time.

Transportation Survey
We are looking for people who are 18 years and older with developmental disabilities to complete a survey asking questions about transportation.

autismMatch is an online registry that can quickly and easily connect interested individuals and families with research opportunities to advance scientists' understanding of ASD and related disorders, such as ADHD, anxiety, 22q deletion syndrome, and others. 

Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS)
In an attempt to learn about patterns of brain development in children, we are studying the differences in brain patterns between children with autism spectrum disorders and typically developing children. Infants between 3-6 months of age with an older sibling who is diagnosed with an ASD are invited to participate. 

Research on Autism and Developmental Disorders (ROADD) 
This study will observe young children to learn more about the biological underpinnings of ASD. Children ages 3-5 with or without a diagnosis of ASD may be eligible to participate. 

Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation (EARLI) 
This ground-breaking study is looking at possible environmental and genetic links to autism. Mothers who have a biological child with ASD or who less than 28 weeks pregnant and who live in the tristate area are being invited to participate in this study. 

JAKE App Study
With the use of new mobile app technology, this study aims to develop a mobile app-based system to monitor clinical outcomes in children and adults with ASD vs. typically developing children and adults. Children and adults ages 6 and older with or without ASD may take part.