Issue 8 / Volume 10

September 2017


January is often a time of new beginnings, and September feels the same way - probably because it's typically when a new school year begins and program years get underway.

I've been the president of ASCEND since January and have collaborated with the board in reassessing our programs and initiatives during the past nine months. We decided it was important to focus on addressing unmet needs of the ASD community such as social isolation for young people, their families, as well as adults on the spectrum.

Our monthly Meet-Ups around the region and the Chips, Chocolate and Chat gatherings for adults are two initiatives where ASCEND has made an impact in addressing this need as well as fostering connections within the ASD community.

We have also begun partnering with member organizations such as the Ruttenberg Autism Center. ASCEND co-hosted a successful "Swim Team" movie screening with the Ruttenberg Center and the Wissahickon Valley Public Library last month. Our goal is to cultivate additional partnerships in the coming months.

Part of the board's reassessment process included evaluating whether we should host our annual conference. Given the numerous conferences and workshops held in the Philadelphia area as well as online learning opportunities, we have decided not to host a conference this fall.

We intend to offer educational programs, which are still in the planning stages. Stay tuned for further details. If you have suggestions for topics or speakers, please send me a message at [email protected].

The fall is a busy time, but I hope you can come out to our events or participate in ASD-related events and programs featured in this e-newsletter.

Warm regards,

Elena Perri
ASCEND President

ASCEND Events 

Meet-up at Haverford Reserve's Freedom Playground

Event is free and open to all ages; family members and friends welcome. Light refreshments will be available.
Sunday, Sept. 17, 3-5 p.m.
For location info, click here
For the playground website, click here.

Mini-Golf Meet-up 

Burholme Golf and Family Entertainment Center
410 Cottman Ave, Phila, PA 19111
Saturday, Sept. 23, 10 a.m.
ASCEND Members: $5 for adults, $4 kids under 12
Non- ASCEND Members: $7 for adults, $6 kids under 12

Stay for lunch at the snack stand and also enjoy the arcade, battling cages and driving range. 

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.

Sunday, 9/24 from 3:30 to 4:30PM
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

Facilitated by Carol S. Weinman, Esq., C.A.S., specialized attorney and parent, this free group will be held in a different room but at the same time as the adult group session, Chips, Chocolate & Chat.

Sunday, 9/24 from 3:30 to 4:30PM
Ruttenberg Autism Center
1740 Walton Road, 1st Floor

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



New ASCEND Professional Member 

Nellie's Schoolhouse
35 Old Covered Bridge Rd
Newtown Square, PA 19073

We connect children with autism, depression and anxiety to well trained and well behaved dogs. We are an ambulatory classroom in which our screened volunteers and their dogs visit children and their families in their homes over a predetermined period of time (after school and on weekends). As a parent of an autistic, depressed or anxious child, you are encouraged to explore and learn about the opportunities available for your youngster to be a member of Nellie's Schoolhouse. The relationship between a child and a dog has been proven to be powerful and life changing.
Contact: Tom Richards - Executive Director 610-212-0516



ASCEND Professional Member News & Events

Employment and Navigating the World of Public Funding:
-  for parents, caregivers, educators, clinicians and service providers

Securing services for adults with disabilities can be a challenging experience for family members and guardians caring for loved ones. Knowledge and advocacy are critical tools as you work to maximize the benefit of public funding, eligibility and protecting your child's assets. Additionally, people with disabilities may have access to funding through several government offices including the Department of Labor and Industry, The Department of Human Services and the Social Security Administration. Each system has its own set of guidelines, paperwork and reimbursement structure. Pennsylvania has also recently made changes to waiver programs and coverage making the world of funding even more complicated. Hear from our panel of experts as they help you understand the eligibility criteria and guide you to effectively navigate the process.

Panel: Angelina Bush, Certified Benefits Counselor, Community Integrated Services;  Angelica Webster, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and Mary Jo Tucker, parent representative
Moderator: Alexandra "Sascha" Baello, Customized Workforce Solutions Site Supervisor.
Click Here to register.

Tuesday, 9/19, from 7:00 - 8:30PM
Valley Forge Educational Services 
Activities Center
1777 North Valley Road
Malvern, PA 19355

For more information contact Juliann Jaffe: 610.296.6725 x116 or at [email protected]

Top 10 Things to Know Before Heading Off to College
By:Terri Weiner at Transition Steps to Success where our mission is to provide specialized Occupational Therapy services to help individuals make successful transitions and launch satisfying, healthy, and fulfilling lives.

Someone you know may be preparing to venture off to college: they have made the trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond and are getting excited for their new lives. For the adults who are helping them to prepare for this next step, it can be an anxiety- provoking time. 

We've compiled a list of the "Top 10 Things You Need to Know Before Heading Off to College." Use these suggestions as a tool for your "Transition  to  Success" at college. This quick list was created as a way to inspire you towards a new level of independence. Please save this and share it. 

New Books Published: 
Patience Domowski, LCSW, of Patience's Behavior Therapy, recently published books which may be helpful to those on the autism spectrum: 
Lily Makes Friends- book about making friends/social skills.
Julian Learns- book about following directions/anger.
An (un)common sense guide to parenting- parenting book which includes a section on autism.
Brianna and the Blue Monster- book about depression for kids. Violet and the Worry Warthog- book for kids with anxiety. 

Helping Adults with Autism Age Well in the Philadelphia Area
By Erin Arvedlund for Philly.Com

What happens when adult children with disabilities become senior citizens?

It's a growing reality that Judith Creed Homes for Adult Independence (JCHAI) is grappling with as its adult clients become seniors, some in their late 70s.

While trusts remain one of the best planning techniques for families with means, many adults with disabilities have more immediate needs, such as finding jobs and places to live, and learning new skills.


As the number of children with autism grows, so do awareness and special places to play
By: Rita Giordano for Philly.Com

Toby, 3, bubbling over with a preschooler's boundless enthusiasm, was running laps around the city of Philadelphia one recent Friday morning as his dad Tim Schellenberg tried to keep up. 

"Dad! Look!" called out Toby, racing ahead. 

Okay, it was a Lego version of Philadelphia - but a 1.5 million-brick, sprawling replica, including a nine-foot high Liberty Place that towered over Toby. The cityscape is one of the highlights of the new Legoland Discovery Center at the Plymouth Meeting Mall.

Local ASD Events


New Playground For Special Needs Kids Opens in Bristol Township
By: Erich Marten for

For 15 years, Widza and Cedric Bryant have searched for a way to keep their sons together for before and after school care sessions.

Vladimir Bryant, now 15, has physical special needs that prevent him from attending the same care services as his twin brother. To fill the need and ease the pain the family knows all too well, Widza and Cedric set out to create a service where kids with physical special needs and their siblings can go together before and after school.


Autism Society Greater Philadelphia and AMC: Sensory Friendly Movies

AMC is proud to partner with the Autism Society to bring you unique movie showings where you can feel free to be you! We turn the lights up, and turn the sound down, so you can get up, dance, walk, shout or sing! 
Sept. 9: Leap!
Sept. 12: It
Sept. 23: Lego Ninjago
Sept. 26: Kingsman The Golden Circle

Penn Museum: New Program for Families with Special Needs

New program for families with special needs! Join other local families at the Penn Museum for an unforgettable night of sensory-friendly fun at our Evening Expedition. For children ages 8 and older, teens, and young adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities and their families, this program offers a hands-on look into the lives of the ancients through active, engaging, multisensory activities. Our evening explorers will take part in an interactive game show, enjoy an introductory lesson to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, perform adaptive yoga, make crafts, and even touch artifacts from our ancient Peruvian mummy cart! The night will culminate with a flashlight tour of select Museum galleries.

All participants should bring a flashlight for the Flashlight Expedition, and may also bring their own dinner and/or snacks. A sensory-friendly cool down space will be available to visit for the duration of the event. Please email or call Megan Becker at [email protected] or 215.573.5309 with any questions about the event. Fee: $15/participant, $15/chaperone.

New Program for Latino Families

A dance/movement/music therapy parent-child workshop on Saturdays at Taller Puertorriqueño that is presented in English and Spanish. Recruitment for this program is beginning now and is capped at 20 children under the age of 12 who have children with behavioral and developmental challenges. 

A drop in skills and answer workshop once a month at HUNE held in English and Spanish and offers functional skills and systems advocacy and navigation for families who have children with behavioral and developmental challenges. This is open to all families and is presented in English and Spanish.

Contact Sully Moreno for more information.

Autism Awareness Event in Autumn
Exceptional Families of Exceptional Children (E.F.E.C.) and Elmwood Park Zoo are teaming up to bring the community an Autism Awareness Event in Autumn. The Elmwood Park Zoo is looking to expand the community's understanding of autism and Exceptional Families of Exceptional Children is looking to show families all the wonderful resources available in this area. This year marks our fifth year teaming up to bring the community this event!
Sat, 9/23, from 11am-2pm
Elmwood Park Zoo
1661Harding Blvd Norristown,19401


Support Group for Siblings of Children with Special Needs

The JAFCO STAR Group (Siblings Together are Remarkable) is a support group, facilitated by a Licensed Social Worker, that provides typical siblings (ages 8-16) of children with developmental disabilities a safe space to talk about their feelings with other children who share their experience. The program will also allow opportunities for the participant and their sibling to work together through fun teamwork exercises! This service is offered at no charge to the family!
RSVP: Rachel Buxbaum, LSW or call 610-525-1040 

Save the Date: PEAC 6th Annual Inclusion Conference

Pennsylvania Education for all Coalition wil be hosting its sixth annual conference on Fri., 11/10 and Sat 11/11. The keynote speaker will be Eric Carter, Ph.D, FAIDD, Vanderbilt University. 
PEAC Speaker Packet
PEAC Sponsor Levels

In the Media

Why Judges Need Autism Training Just as Much as Police Do
By: The Autism Site

Judges in Pennsylvania got some new on-the-job-training recently that can help them bring fairness and justice into their courtrooms when defendants with autism come before them. More than 1,000 judges in the state are required to participate in continuing education that helps them understand and recognize autism when they see it in court and better interpret the responses of people with autism.

Penn Study Finds High Quality Early Intervention for Children with Autism Quickly Results in Costs Savings

PHILADELPHIA - One in every 68 children in the United States has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a neuro-developmental disorder that results in difficulty socializing and communicating needs and desires, and often is accompanied by restricted interests or activities. Research has shown that early intervention leads to better outcomes for children on the spectrum. But the cost of early intervention is high-ranging from $40,000 to $80,000 per year for intensive early intervention-and health care insurers, state and local early intervention programs often are reluctant to pay for it, thereby making it difficult for families of children with ASD to obtain these expensive services.

Things We Like

Natural History Museum Corrects Display After 10-Year-Old Spots They Used the Wrong Dinosaur
By Ellen Manning, Yahoo News U.K.
When Charlie Edwards told his mum that one of the signs at the Natural History Museum was wrong, she told him to leave it to the experts.

But the 10-year-old stuck to his guns, insisting the world-famous museum had made a gaffe and included the picture of the wrong dinosaur.

It turns out the smart schoolboy was right, with museum bosses confirming that they had indeed made a mistake and would put it right.

2017 Eagle Project of the Year: He built sensory rooms for kids with autism
By: Bryan Wendell at

Ever since he was in Cub Scouts, Blake Deaton knew he wanted his Eagle Scout service project to help students with special needs.

Students like his twin brother, Shane, who is autistic and legally blind.

So when he became a Life Scout, Blake approached Savanna Hersh, Shane's special-needs teacher. He asked Hersh (seen with Blake in the photo above) what Shane's classroom needed most.

"And, I said, 'an iPad?'" Hersh remembers telling Blake. "You know, we could always use some more technology. And it was, 'No. Think bigger.'"


Target Unveils Clothing For Kids With Special Needs
By: Shaun Heasley from:

Target is rolling out a collection of sensory-friendly apparel for children and says adaptive clothing for those with disabilities is on the way too.

The new offerings are part of the retailer's house brand Cat & Jack and are available exclusively on the store's website.





In This Issue...

  1. ASCEND News
  2. Professional Member Events & Services
  3. Local ASD Happenings
  4. In the Media



You may be receiving ASCEND Group's E-newsletter,
 but are you an ASCEND member?

ASCEND members know that their annual subscription fees are being used responsibly and effectively to further the ASCEND mission.

ASCEND Group Inc.
Email: [email protected]


ASCEND Group Inc. 
P.O. Box 2097

Media, PA 19063
[email protected]


Legal Disclaimer: ASCEND maintains the Professional Services Resource Directory 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.