January 2019






ASCEND's Upcoming Events 

Chips, Chocolate & 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.,1/13 from 4-5 PM 
Ruttenberg Autism Center
1740 Walton Road, 1st Floor, Blue Bell, PA 19422


Discussion Group for Caregivers
Runs simultaneously but in a different room than the adult social group.
Attendees: Caregivers of adults on the autism spectrum
Sun., 1/13 from 4-5 PM 
Ruttenberg Autism Center
1740 Walton Road, 1st Floor, Blue Bell, PA 19422


ASCEND Game MeetUp for Tweens & Teens

Ages 10-17 years old

Sun., 1/27 from 2-4 PM

Social Enrichment Center
542 Wesley Rd., Springfield, PA 19064

How to find us: 
The Social Enrichment Center is located at Hancock Methodist Church in Springfield. Entrance has red doors.

Free event but RSVP required via meetup.com  (free) and SEARCH for ASCENDGroup Event.


Barbara BissonetteRegistration Now Open!

Autism and Employment Webinars
with Barbara Bissonnette


1) Networking Webinar: Tues., 1/29 from 7:00 PM - 8:15 PM (session runs for one hour followed by a 15-minute Q&A)

Job Networking for the Not-So-Socially-Savvy

Do you cringe at the thought of attending a job networking meeting and speaking to people you don't know? Don't worry! There are many ways to utilize this job search technique that do not involve rooms full of strangers. We'll begin with an explanation of what, exactly, networking is and why it is the best way to find employment. Then you will learn specific ways to begin and grow a network both online and in person. The webinar includes examples from the presenter's actual clients.

2) Interviewing Webinar: Tues., 2/19 from 7:00 PM - 8:15 PM  (session runs for one hour followed by a 15-minute Q&A)

Job Interviewing: Communicate Your Skills and Get Hired!

Do you wish that someone would explain the unspoken rules about what to say during an interview? Are you confused about the difference between marketing your skills and lying? Nervous about what to expect? This webinar is for you! You will learn: how employers evaluate candidates; how to prepare strong responses to anticipated questions; tips for avoiding common mistakes; the correct way to follow up; and the pros and cons of disclosing during an interview.

ASCEND Family and Organizational Members: Free
ASCEND Individual Members: $10.00/session

Non-members: $20/session 
Sign up for both webinars and receive an ASCEND Family Membership for free!

Highlight on ASCEND Professional Member: 

Carroll-Ratliff Counseling Services

Carroll-Ratliff Counseling Services provides expert counseling for people on the spectrum. Parent coaching and sibling support are also provided. Some services offered are individual therapy, family counseling, group counseling, home visits/ consultations, and evaluations. Services are individualized for the person and family being served.

In addition to working with people diagnosed with ASD; we offer supports and services to family members to build the most successful and happy environment for all. Siblings are often in need of supports or just someone to vent to.  Giving everyone in the family the supports they need to function in a happy and healthy way is key to the long term success of the interventions. 

Some examples of services available are: 

  • Support following an initial diagnosis. Next steps to take.
  • Sibling and Family member supports & therapy.
  • Emotion Regulation Skills for individuals with ASD
  • Phone and Email consultations
  • Therapy for individuals dealing with a dual diagnosis.
  • Behavior Consultations
  • Community supports for people who want to be more involved in their own community.
  • If you have additional support needs or something specific in mind call us. We can probably help or know someone who can.

Teen Therapy

This is a place where teens can talk with peers about life! Discussions include school, parents, dating, siblings, friendships, sexuality & anything that a teen could be experiencing.

To find out more please contact us:

[email protected]

Professional Events



 Family Support and Peer Group


Our Bryn Mawr Location: Family Support Group: 

Managing Challenging Behaviors for Your Child with ASD or IDD

Led by Kaleidoscope's own Clinical Development Director, Jordan Hollander, M.Ed., BCBA, this workshop will focus on effective techniques and tools to help you begin the process of managing any behaviors and/or actions that may be challenging for your child with autism or developmental disabilities. Jordan will provide an overview of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and provide some simple examples of how to implement positive changes that meet your child's needs.

Peer Support Groups ... now every Tuesday!

Date: Tuesday, January 8, 2019 Time: 6:30-8:00 PM Social Skills: Let's Sing Karaoke

Date: Tuesday, January 15, 2019 Time: 6:30-8:00 PM Independent Living: Cooking Class with Baked Ziti for the Winter Ball and dinner

Date: Tuesday, January 22, 2019 Time: 6:30-8:00 PM Topic: Independent Living: Topic: Life Planning: Vision Board Collages

Date: Tuesday, January 29, 2019 Time: 6:30-8:00 PM Social Skills: Group Game Night

Refreshments Served.

Please RSVP to Pam Frebowitz at [email protected] 
or call 215-681-0172

All groups are open to the community! Family Support Groups are free however there is a $5 fee for peer support groups if you are not receiving waiver services from Kaleidoscope.

Refreshments and Coffee Served
Bethel AME Church, 50 S. Merion Avenue,
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
Tues.,1/22 from 6:30-8:00 PM

Our Coatesville Location: 
Family/Caregiver Support Group:
"Charting the LifeCourse"

Charting the LifeCourse with Darcy Elks from the PA Family Network Together we will see how the Lifecourse Framework can be used to think about the big vision for a good life and tools to focus on life domains such as transition, employment, community living, safety and and security, citizenship and advocacy. This is ODP's sponsored program for living your best life.

Thursday, 1/17 from 6:30-8:00 PM
Location: Coatesville Area Public Library, 501 E. Lincoln Hwy. Coatesville, PA 19320
Refreshments and Coffee Served


Hill Top Prep Open House

This is a great opportunity to learn about the students we serve, our unique academic programs, and see our beautiful campus on a tour lead by our Student Ambassadors. 
Please click here to RSVP or call 610-527-3230.
Wednesday 1/9 from 9:30 - 11:30 AM.
Hill Top Prep 737 S. Ithan Avenue, Rosemont, PA


 Center for Autism Research 
This ADOS-2 training provides experienced autism professionals with introductory training on the use of the ADOS-2 to assess and diagnose autism spectrum disorder (ASD) across ages, developmental levels, and language skills. The training will be led by  Dr. Whitney Guthrie , a certified ADOS-2 trainer and co-author of the ADOS-2 Toddler Module. 

Tuesday, 1/22 from 8:30 AM - 5:30 PM
Wednesday, 1/23 from 8:30 AM - 5:30 PM

Valley Forge Special Kids Camp Expo

Free and open to the community!
Saturday, 1/26 from 1 - 4 PM at Valley Forge Educational Center

1847 financial logo



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.

Wednesday, 1/30 at 6 PM

Maple Point Middle School 2250 Langhorne-Yardley Rd, Langhorne, PA 19047


 Ongoing Groups:


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 team work 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 and boys between 4-18 years old in: 



~Plymouth Meeting

~Center City Philadelphia

At Last! Art of Friendship (AoF) offers BOTH social cognition AND emotional coping in its therapy groups. As you read on you'll wonder, "Why haven't emotional coping skills ALWAYS been woven into social skills programs?" Read on to find out why we changed our name...

Social skills groups SHOULD NOT be one-size-fits-all. Different kids have different challenges!  AoF differentiates Social-Coping Skills into the following skill areas to meet the needs of your client or student:

  • 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 Groups
Girls' groups, boys' groups, and co-ed groups are offered for the following age ranges: 
  • 4-5 year olds
  • 6-7 year olds
  • 8-9 year olds
  • 10-11 year olds
  • 12-13 year olds
  • 14-16 year olds
  • 16-18 year olds 

If you have questions about the program or schedule, or wish to enroll in a social-coping group, contact the Art of Friendship admissions coordinator, Debbie DeBenedictis, at 610-649-1080, x1,  [email protected].



 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.

This group will utilize an eclectic curricular approach as well as evidence-based practices in providing skill instruction to individuals with ASD. Skills are presented in a developmental sequence to ensure that participants obtain the foundational knowledge needed to develop higher order technical and workplace skills. Skill demonstrations, role-plays, work simulations and individual as well as group-based skill projects will be some of the key activities participants will be exposed to during sessions.

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.

Local ASD News & Events


Free Family Support Meetings - Green Tree School 
Hosted by the Family Advocacy
and Outreach Committee.

Do you have or know a child with special needs? Please join us monthly for our family support group meetings. Open to all families of children with special needs! Providing opportunities for families of students with special needs to connect with each other.

Children are welcome.

RSVP Strongly Encouraged to: 
Donna Mazzella or Chris Ruggiero 

215-866-0200, Ext. 401

Please include the number of adults and number of children that will be in attendance. Full disclosure: A family member is a school social worker at The Green Tree School.

SPIN Caregivers Group

Monday, 1/7 
from 6:30-7:30 PM at We Rock The Spectrum, 12357 Academy Road, Philadelphia, PA 19154. Supporting Parents with Children with Autism. Childcare available.

Transitions to Preschool and Kindergarten

Tabor and Family Support Services

Thursday, 1/15 (snow date 1/31) from 5:30 - 7:30 PM at Family Support Services, 5548 Chestnut St., Phila 19139

  • Childcare reimbursement for qualified participants
  • Prizes and refreshments
  • To request a session in another language contact us.

RSVP: Cathy Roccia-Meier
Phone: 215-204-1772
Email: [email protected]


Autism Society Greater Philadelphia and AMC: Sensory-Friendly Movies 

Tuesday, 1/8: Bumblebee
Saturday, 1/12: Mary Poppins Returns
Tuesday, 1/22: Glass
Saturday, 1/26: A Dog's Way Home

Movies and times are subject to change.
AMC Neshaminy 24, Bensalem, PA 215-396-8050
AMC Philadelphia (Franklin) Mills 14, Phila, PA  215-612-2740
AMC Marple 10, Springfield, PA


Walnut Street Theater is handing out FREE TICKETS to their  performance of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime"

When: 4/10/2019 at 11 AM
To reserve tickets, please email the following information to [email protected]

Your name and address 

Your organization (if applicable) 

Total number of tickets needed 

Total number of individuals on the spectrum (and ages if individual is under 21) 

Total number of attendees over 21 

Any special seating needs (such as wheelchair seating) This information is required for the grant that we have received to provide these tickets free of charge to you and to reserve your seats. Tickets will be mailed out early in the new year.

**This play is tailored to an adult audience and has numerous incidences of adult language throughout.

Vision for Equality has put together a guide entitled Places to Go and Things To Do in Southeast PA for all people! This guide is geared toward people with special needs.

PA Office of Developmental Programs, Bureau of Autism Services and the ASERT are asking anyone who works in a position where they interact with those with Autism to complete an Autism Survey. This is for anyone no matter where they work or what they do, whether you are an aide, a doctor, a bus driver, phlebotomist, clinician, teacher please fill out their survey prior to January 18.



Research Studies

Mealtime Experiences Study
For young adults (18-23 yrs.) on the autism spectrum who have food selective behaviors (i.e., dislike a lot of foods or eat fewer foods than most people their age).


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


This is a research registry in which children and adults with or without ASD are asked to create a profile in order to be matched with currently enrolling research studies.

Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS)
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)  
Children ages 3-5 with or without a diagnosis of ASD may be eligible to participate.

Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation EARLI
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
Children and adults ages 6 and older with or without ASD may take part.


 In the Media 

Helping to Ease Move to College: Aiding Teens with Autism
By Theresa McFalls and Bridget McElroy for Philly.com

Transitioning to college is a big adjustment for any incoming freshmen. For young adults on the autism spectrum, this can raise a whole new world of concerns. Parents may wonder: Will my child be able to handle the independence? There are many things parents of high school seniors on the autism spectrum can do now to prepare their child for college.



Pennsylvania pressing schools to ensure special-ed students aren't on their own
By Avi Wolfman-Arent for https://whyy.org

After a pair of state investigations, the Pennsylvania Bureau of Special Education will send new guidelines to school districts across the state on how to identify and serve students who require surrogate parents to advocate for their special-education rights.


Banner day for a unified North Penn HS
The unified teams were visited by a familiar green mascot. 

By: Jurni Jackson, Staff Writer for https://www.knightcrier.org/

TOWAMENCIN - Last December, North Penn High School started a Unified Bocce Team. This team went on to win the state championship in its very first season, but they did so much more than bring home a trophy. They strengthened acceptance and inclusivity at North Penn, and for this outstanding achievement, all of North Penn's Unified athletes and Special Olympians were celebrated with a Unified Pep Rally on November 19th at North Penn High School.

Skyrocketing special ed. costs falling heavily on Pa. school districts, taxpayers
By Avi Wolfman-Arent for https://whyy.org

Special education costs are rising much faster in Pennsylvania than state aid - causing local taxpayers to foot most of the bill, while also stretching school budgets thin and increasing inequities between rich and poor districts, according to a new report by a duo of advocacy groups.

Vacation Rentals Catering To People With Autism
by Gabrielle Russon, Orlando Sentinel/TNS

ORLANDO, Fla. - Little Julie and Jason Lanza were delighted to show off their souvenirs collected from a day at the theme park. But the truth is, vacations are sometimes difficult on their mother, Lissette Lanza.

Jason - a sweet-faced boy of 7 with floppy bowl-cut hair and an affinity for cars - has autism.

Going somewhere far from home takes him away from the comfort of his routine. He likes a plan, knowing what was happening next. No surprises.

"Sometimes he handles it better than others," said Lanza, a special education teacher from Miami Lakes. "Sometimes he has a meltdown."

But on a recent trip to Central Florida, Lanza expressed a sense of relief since she had less to worry about. She stayed at a vacation rental that is catering to families with autism and other disabilities.


The Savvy Professor's Guide to Accommodating Students with Disabilities
By Amy Edwards, Ed. D

With the start of a new academic year upon us, faculty and staff might be flummoxed about how to handle students who may (or may not) have disabilities that impede classroom learning. Amy Edwards, Ed.D., is Director of the Drexel Autism Support Program, a student-centered program for current Drexel students with the goal of promoting academic and social competency, self-advocacy, interpersonal skills, independent living, and social integration. She helps us navigate the murky waters of "to ask or not to ask" about a learning disability and how to smoothly direct students towards helpful campus resources. 


Legal Disclaimer: ASCEND maintains the Professional Services Resource Directory and e-newsletter as a service to families and professionals as a reference tool. ASCEND does not endorse or claim to have personal knowledge of the abilities of those listed. The resources listed on this page are not intended as a recommendation, referral, or endorsement of any resource or as a tool for verifying the credentials, qualifications, or abilities of any organization, product or professional. Users are urged to use independent judgment when considering any resource associated with diagnosis or treatment of autism, or the provision of services related to autism.

ASCEND Group Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. We do not endorse any specific professional or therapeutic treatment. We are not meant to be a replacement for medical or legal advice. Our mission is to raise public awareness about Asperger Syndrome and related disorders, to advocate for improved education and services, and to provide support and information to the Asperger and autism community. This web site is for informational purposes only. Any link or mention on our web site should not be construed as an endorsement or recommendation. If you have questions about Autism or Asperger Syndrome, please consult with a qualified medical professional.