June 2019






ASCEND's Upcoming Events 

Cyber Addiction, Cyber Health & Cyber Wellness: A New Epidemic Facing Parents and Their Children

Thursday, June 13, 2019 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. Marple Christian Church 475 Lawrence Road, Broomall, PA 19008

ABOUT OUR PRESENTATION: This presentation addresses the addictive nature of the internet & technology and highlights the new epidemic parents are facing raising their children/teenagers in the modern age of technology. Emphasis will be placed on effective approaches and strategies to support parents in helping their child/teen break free from technology addictive behaviors and finding a more balanced approach to achieve overall cyber-wellness and cyber-health. Troy will share practical approaches to children/teens relationship with technology which emphasizes cyber-safety, cyberawareness, and cyber-respect regarding the use of technology and the internet.

Cost: Free for ASCEND members (up to three people)- code will be emailed.
Non-members: $10 per person. Join ASCEND for only $45 a year for families!

Register now!



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., June 2 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., June 2 from 4-5 PM 
Ruttenberg Autism Center
1740 Walton Road, 1st Floor, Blue Bell, PA 19422


Adults (18+) MeetUp: Fun & Games at Round 1

It's time for fun and games! Round1 has a variety of arcade games, bowling alley, darts and ping pong and pool tables. Sensory advisory: Round1 has a bowling alley, arcade games, so it could be loud inside. Everyone will pay for their own games or food during this event. 

Saturday, June 8 from 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM at Round1, 172 Exton Mall, d100, Exton, PA

How to find us: We will meet outside at the entrance with the giant bowling pin. If it rains, we will inform attendees about an alternate meeting spot.

RSVP at meetup.com (it's free to join the site) and search for ASCEND Group.



*Free ASCEND Game MeetUp for Tweens & Teens

10-17 years old
Social Enrichment Center, 542 Wesley Rd., Springfield, PA 19064
When: Sunday, July 23rd from 2-4 PM
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.
How to find us: 
The Social Enrichment Center is located at Hancock Methodist Church in Springfield. Entrance has green doors.
*Free event but RSVP required via meetup.com  (free) and SEARCH for ASCENDGroup Event.

Professional Member Ongoing Groups:

Transition Speaker Series

Looking for guidance on how to support teens or young adults with specialized needs during their transition years? Come get more in-depth information on topics that will help you prepare for and/or negotiate the transition from high school to adulthood. Many sessions will feature guest speakers on the night's topic from local, trusted professionals in the field.

Tuesday, June 11: Managing Meltdowns
Tuesday, June 18: Guardianship & Financial Planning

Time: 7 to 8:30 PM 
Cost: $35 per session for whole family 
Location: 390 Reed Road, FL 1, Broomall, PA 19008

Register and pay.


Registration Open for Adolescent Groups Developing Social and Emotional Coping Skills

Center City, Plymouth Meeting, Paoli, and Haverford, PA - Enrollment is now open for social-coping skills groups 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. The open ended group format helps participants develop and practice age appropriate conversation and hanging-out skills, flexibility and problem solving, navigate unstructured situations, and cyber-etiquette and social media safety. Coping skills for frustration tolerance, anger management, impulse-control, stress, and anxiety are promoted through education of CBT principles, as well. Groups are held at four area locations.


The Art of Friendship offers teen a community extension of its therapy groups in "Connections Social Club for Teens". Art of Friendship group clients are eligible to participate in a 3-hour community activity one weekend per month. "Connections" was created to decrease clients' isolation, build participants' friendship network, deliver age appropriate fun, AND facilitate generalization of social skills. Information about the Art of Friendship Social-Coping Program® and Connections can be found on the web, at www.ArtOfFriendshipSocialSkills.com. If you have any questions or want to enroll your teen, please contact Debbie DeBenedictis, at [email protected].


Day Camp for Children with HFA Provides Structure, Fun, Friendship, and Social-Coping Skills

Bryn Mawr, PA -- Summer vacation can be a harrowing time for the child and family touched by Autism. Although parents and children depend on them, mainstream camps are sometimes a source of stress with young, undertrained staff, inconsistent structure, frequent changes in routine. Battles over video games and smart phone usage are unwanted summer passtimes. Camp avoidance, meltdowns, or expulsions from camps are the most painful challenges of all. There is a solution for summer structure and fun nestled 10 minutes west of Philadelphia. Please click on title link for more information. If you have any questions or needs please contact Aviva Moore, at (610) 649-1080 x3, or at [email protected].


 Autism Spectrum Diagnostics & Consulting

1) 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]

2) Lego®-based Social Skills Group Winter Sessions
Doylestown, PA 
Openings for Children ages 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!


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

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.

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

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

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

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.

ASCEND's Member Cybrary:

Our ASCEND members can take advantage of our Member Cybrary where they can listen to an audio recording and/or view the slides of online webinars and in-person educational sessions we have presented. 
The list now includes: 

  • Key Considerations and Concerns for Teens with ASD Presentation
  • SAP: Autism at WorkCollege Panel Night 
  • Autism and Employment Webinars with Barbara Bissonnette: Networking & Interviewing
  • ASCEND Enews archive

If you would like to join ASCEND and gain access, please click here.


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.


New: Wandering Research Study
Researchers at Cohen Children's Medical Center are conducting a new, national study about wandering in children with autism and other developmental disabilities. If you are the parent of a child who wanders, you may be eligible to participate. Participants will be asked to spend approximately 30 minutes completing an anonymous, online questionnaire about their child's wandering behavior. To take the survey, click on this link. For more information, contact Bridget Kiely. 

New: Transportation Survey 

We are looking for adults with autism ages 18 and older to participate in a study looking at the impact of travel training on use of public transportation to access the community (i.e., social events, medical appointments, work).

Participants receive group and individual travel training instruction from occupational therapists and peers on how to use public transportation such as buses and trains. 

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 Developemental 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. 

Local ASD News & Events

Big Apple Circus & Elmwood Park Zoo Present: An ASD Friendly Experience

Big Apple Circus embraces autism with amazing artistry. This performance provides sensory adaptations to welcome ASD patrons and their families with open arms.

May 31 at 11 AM 
75-minute show with no intermission at Philadelphia Expo Center Oaks, 100 Station Avenue, Oaks, PA 



FREE Kamp for Kids Autism Family Retreat 

Campfire, games, carnival games, movie night, sports, sensory friendy activities and more.

Arrival: Friday, August 16 between 6 PM  - 7 PM
Departure: Sunday,  August 18 at 2 PM


Meet at First Baptist Church/Solid Rock Youth Center, 150 Harrison Ave. Morrisville, Pa 19067
- Pick up is Friday, August 16 at 5 PM sharp
- Drop off is Sunday, August 18 at 4 PM.

Camp packing list.
Camp application form.


Philadelphia Mental Health Center's Summer Camp at the ASAP (After School Autism Program)

We offer an interactive, educational and exciting group therapeutic program for children and teens ages 5 - 20 who are on the ASD/Asperger's Spectrum.

Our Summer program starts June 5 and meets M-F, 9 AM - 3 PM (ages 5-12) and 4 - 8 PM (ages 13-20). We also have Saturday programming 8 AM - 2 PM (ages 5-12) and 8 - 11 AM (ages 13-20). 

Summer Camp at ASAP is a clinical intervention and is covered by Medical Assistance. Participants must have Medicare, for which all participants with ASD are eligible. Transportation is provided.

To learn more information and enroll your child please contact LaTonya Grant, MS, Director of Autism Services, Philadelphia Mental Health Center, 267-969-7961, ext. 301 or [email protected].


In the Media

HBO Show: On Tour with Aspergers Are Us

Series premiere. Noah, Ethan, Jack and New Michael, better known as the comedy troupe Asperger's Are Us, prepare for a challenging six-week tour across the U.S. After shopping for the right set of wheels and mentally preparing for a journey that will challenge their ability to deal with change, they kick off their tour with a show in Boston, performing to an enthusiastic hometown crowd.

'People should be allowed to do what they like': Autistic adults' views and experiences of stimming

Research suggests that non-autistic people often misunderstand the behaviour of autistic people (Faso, Sasson, & Pinkham, 2015; Sheppard, Pillai, Wong, Ropar & Mitchell, 2016), likely contributing to autistic people's socio-communicative challenges. This particularly applies to 'motor stereotypies' such as 'hand or finger flapping' or 'complex whole-body movements' (American Psychiatric Association (APA), 2013). Since the initial accounts of autism (Asperger, 1944/1991; Kanner, 1943), these behaviours have been considered as self-stimulatory acts that shut out external stimuli and interfere with the person's (and others') focus (Lilley, in press).


Why Video Games Trigger the Nightly Meltdown-and How to Help Your Child Cope
By Julie Jargon, WSJ 

Every night, parents around the globe fight a battle of wills when they tell their kids to power down their game consoles to do homework, eat dinner or go to bed. The directive is usually met with some serious side-eye and whining. In some cases, children yell, throw tantrums or slam doors. No one likes to be forced to stop having fun, but something unique appears to be going on here-you don't hear much about kids having epic meltdowns when they're told to stop playing with Legos. So what's happening in that moment, the forced transition from game play to real life?


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.