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: 



Cyber Wellness
Presenter: Dr. Paul Kesselman
Thursday, February 27
7:00 - 8:30 PM
Berwyn United Methodist Church
140 Waterloo Ave, Berwyn, PA 19312 
(The church is about a 10-minute walk from the Berwyn train station.)

Living in an "Instaworld"
How parents can learn to deal with the challenges of the internet, social media and more.

Dr. Paul Kesselman's presentation will help parents understand the addictive nature of games, social media and the internet. Provide ideas and resources to parents on how to help their children at different ages manage “screen time” Create more of an overall balance in the home which will help minimize the impact of technology. Help create a dialogue between parents and children about technology.
Cost: FREE for ASCEND Members (up to three people); $10 per person for non-members

Join ASCEND for only $45 a year for families.

Register here.
Paul KesselmanPaul Kesselman holds a Doctor of Psychology and a master's degree from the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Yeshiva University. He is the founder of Kesselman Clinical Associates in Devon. He and his staff provide treatment for children, teens, adults and families who have a variety of different issues and problems.
They specialize in working with clients with anxiety, depression, behavioral problems, trauma, ADD/ADHD, and Asperger's and Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

Bridges to Independence 
Presenter: Dr. Alan Schnee

Wednesday, March 25
7:00 - 8:30 PM
Location: TBD

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); $10 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 
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.

Sunday, February 23 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Every 4th 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., February 23 from 4-5 PM 

Upcoming Dates:
March 22
April 19
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, February 23 from 4-5 PM 
New location : see above.

ASCEND Professional Events


Family and Peer Support Groups

What is a Reasonable Accommodation? Led by Darlene Hemerka, Staff Attorney from The Public Interest Law Center

This presentation will explore what a reasonable accommodation is under the Americans with Disabilities Act. It will begin by discussing who is eligible for a reasonable accommodation. Then the discussion will move to examples of accommodations and provide tips for requesting an accommodation and disclosing disability. The presentation will conclude with information about what an employee can do if an employer denies an accommodation request.

Please bring your adult or young adult child for a simultaneous social skills peer support group. Topic: Creativity with a project to make Creativity Stones.

Tuesday, February 25 from 6:30 - 8:00 PM
Bethel AME Church, 50 S. Merion Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
(parking in the front and rear). 0Contact [email protected] 



  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.

Tuesday, February 11, 6:30 PM
Local’s Coffee, 909 E Willow Grove Ave Wyndmoor, PA  19038
Joanna Craney presenting!

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

 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: February 22, March 14, April 18 and May 16, 2020.

 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 starting Monday, January 27, 2020 in Doylestown, PA. 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 starting Monday, January 27, 2020 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 starting Monday, January 27, 2020. 

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

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

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. To view our past meetups use these links: 2017 Meet Ups list click here. To view our 2018 Meet Ups click here.
  • 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 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.