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 Planning for the Future Seminar 


Where: Congregation of Ami 708 Ridge Pike, Lafayette Hill, PA 19444
When: Sunday, November 18th from 1PM-5PM
Light refreshments served
Fees: BEFORE 11/11:
ASCEND Members: $35.00, Non-Members: $75.00
AFTER 11/11: ASCEND Members: $50.00, Non-Members: $100.00
Join ASCEND Group now to obtain a discount! 



“Transition Services: What Services Does My School District Have to Provide”
Michael Connolly, Esq., McAndrews Law Offices

Description: The presentation will focus on a discussion of the legal responsibility of public school districts to provide students eligible for special education services under the IDEA with transition programming to help prepare them for life after high school.  The discussion will touch on the requirements for appropriate transition assessments and programming, including the kinds of supports, services, and training a school district may have to provide.

Presenter: Michael Connolly, Esq. is a shareholder at McAndrews Law Offices and was named Supervising Partner of Special Education in 2018. With twenty years of experience, he represents parents of children with special needs in a variety of education matters at administrative hearings and state and federal court. He has assisted parents in disputes involving their public school related to issues such as eligibility and identification, programming and placement, tuition reimbursement, discipline, bullying, and discrimination.


He also lectures across the state and nationally to parents, educators, and attorneys on special education and other education law related topics. Throughout his legal career, Mr. Connolly has been an active member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Legal Services for Exceptional Children Committee, where he served as Vice Chair from 2002 through 2003 and as Chair from 2003 through 2006. In his roles as Vice Chair and Chair, he played an active part in helping to shape the Bar Association’s position on legal issues impacting students with disabilities as well as planning one of the Commonwealth’s preeminent legal conferences in the area of special education. Mr. Connolly continues to be an active member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and its Legal Services for Exceptional Children’s Committee.



“A Look into Supports in Higher Education for Students with Autism”

Description: More students with Autism Spectrum Disorder are attending college, which has resulted in an increase in the development of support programs in higher education. Learn more about how supports differ from high school, as well as amongst programs.  West Chester University’s Cherie Fishbaugh from the Dub-C Autism Program will share insights on the program and be available to answer questions.

Presenter: Cherie Fishbaugh is a board-certified behavior analyst. She earned her M.A. in special education with an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis from The Ohio State University. Cherie has worked with individuals from the age of 18 months to adulthood. Her experience includes working as a Case Supervisor at the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, serving as an Education Consultant for the May Institute, Mid-Atlantic region, and assisting with program and clinic development for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Autism Resource Center (SPARC). In 2016, Cherie joined West Chester University as the Director of Autism Services and developed Dub-C Autism Program (D-CAP). Cherie's clinical and research expertise are in the areas of behavior analysis, autism spectrum disorders, behavior management, social skills training, and positive behavior supports.


“Title:  What is OVR and Why Do I Want to Apply for Services?”

Presenters: Danielle Miller, Early Reach Coordinator at the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and Scott Cardoni who is a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor specializing in Transition Services for the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. Scott completed his undergraduate and Master’s degrees at the University of Scranton. From 2009 and until he took his current position, Scott worked with students beginning at “Friendship House,” a mental health day partial hospitalization program for students ranging in age from early elementary to high school. Scott then moved to the Students Assistance Program at Lackawanna County Community College, and various student service programs at the University of Scranton including the Jane Kopas Women’s Center, PACT, and PASS, helping freshmen student adjust to college life and work load.

“Planning For Your Loved One with Special Needs: What Every Caregiver Needs to Know”

Description: Families with children and other dependents with special needs, no matter what the age or disability, face many serious questions about how to best prepare for the future well-being of their loved ones. It is important to be aware of how special needs financial & estate planning is different than traditional financial & estate planning. Our goal is to make sure attendees learn the importance of integrating all the necessary pieces into one cohesive plan, so the vision they have for their child’s life can become a reality, whether they are here or not.

Presenter: Pat Bergmaier: as an adviser with 1847Financial, Pat joined the agency with an expertise in special needs financial planning. Prior to joining 1847Financial in February 2015, Pat had partnered with the MetLife Center for Special Needs Planning since 2009 where he focused his practice on working with families to address the unique circumstances and requirements of individuals with special needs.

 Register now! 
Join ASCEND Group now to obtain a discount! 


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., 11/18 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., 11/18 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]


If you were unable to attend our recent sold out College Panel Night at West Chester University here is some information presented that night:

Understanding College Accommodations
Difference K-12 and Higher Education

ASCEND Professional Events Calendar & Professional Directory

ASCEND Professional Member Events
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Professional Members' Offerings:

Social Groups, Support Groups & Workshops     

Summer Camps/Programs   

Research Opportunities (New studies added!)

Professional Member Events:


Autism Spectrum Diagnostics & Consulting Presents: Teen Girls' Paint Night
Purpose: To meet other teen girls and build friendships
When: A Friday Night in October
Where: ASDC Office in Doylestown
Cost: $40 to cover painting class (snacks and drinks will be provided) 
To RSVP (we need 10 girls to hold the painting class) please contact Dr. Brittany Lyman at   [email protected]



Valley Forge Educational Services 4th Annual Resource Fair for Adults with Special Needs

Valley Forge Educational Services Resource Fair brings together fifty of the area's best programs, services and resources for transition-age youth and adults with special needs and their families. Explore a variety of supportive employment organizations, residential services, community support services, continuing education programs, benefits counselors, family advocates, special needs financial planning experts and recreational and leisure programs-all in one location.. The event is free and open to the public.
Thurs., 10/11 from 6:30-8:30PM 
VFES 1777N. Valley Rd., Malvern, PA 19355



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Fall 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.

Thurs., 10/11 at 6:00pm
Clearview Regional High School, 625 Breakneck Rd Mullica Hill, NJ


Free JAFCO Star Group (SIblings Together Are Remarkable)

This support group provides typical siblings of children with developmental disabilities a safe space to talk about their feelings with other children who share their experience.We are offering this free service in two locations: 

ABINGTON Fall 2018 Dates (Sundays):  10/21, 11/18, 12/16 
Location: Old York Road Temple-Beth Am (Rovinsky Family Youth Lounge) 971 Old York Road, Abington, PA 19001 Time: 1:15-2:15 p.m. (ages 7-11) 2:30-4:00 p.m. (ages 12-17)

MAIN LINE Fall 2018 Dates (Wednesdays): 10/24, 11/28, 12/19 Location: JAFCO Office 215 N. Presidential Blvd (2nd floor) Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004 
Time: 4:00-5:00 p.m. (ages 12-17)
Registration Required! To register, please contact: 610-525-1040 or [email protected]


Kaleidoscope Family/Caregiver Support Groups with Simultaneous Peer Support Group

Our First Location:
Family Support Group: 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 security, citizenship and advocacy.

Peer Support Group: Reciprocal Conversations to Create Lasting Relationships
Pizza Served
Individuals often have challenges forming lasting relationships that include meaningful and reciprocal conversations. This group will use role-modeling to practice effective dialogues with others.

Please RSVP to Pam Frebowitz, MS
[email protected] or call 215-681-0172
Refreshments and Coffee Served
Bethel AME Church 50 S. Merion Avenue Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
Tues.,10/23 from 7:00-8:30PM

Our Second Location:
Family/Caregiver Support Group :Reframing Expectations: Setting and Achieving Realistic Outcomes in Postsecondary Living

Jordan Hollander M.Ed BCBA, Clinical Development Director of Kaleidoscope Family Solutions. Using a person-centered approach combined with the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis, Jordan Hollander will focus on rethinking values, identifying strengths, and how to start teaching your family skills that are essential for success in the real world.

Peer Support Group: Reciprocal Conversations to Create Lasting Relationships Pizza Served Individuals often have challenges forming lasting relationships that include meaningful and reciprocal conversations. This group will use role-modeling to practice effective dialogues with others.

Thurs., 10/18 from 6:00-7:30PM
Coatesville Area Public Library, 501 E. Lincoln Hwy. Coatesville, PA 19320
Refreshments and Coffee Served

Kristina Vaccha, LCSW, MSS, MA Applied Behavior Analysis, LBS, Therapist, Behavior Support Specialist is forming a therapeutic support group for adults on the spectrum.. 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.. It will also be an opportunity to socialize but the focus is more on support versus social skill instruction. The first meeting is free and once the group forms the fee will be $30 per group. Invoices provided for insurance and sliding scale available if needed. Contact via email or 484-274-8957.



ASCEND Membership

Member Benefits include:

    • Free admission to one or more meet-ups. To view our 2017 Meet Ups list click here.
    • Invitations to ASCEND-sponsored social events
    • 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 member only links on our site like our recent information sessions: Choosing the Right Job or Career: Tips for Individuals on the Spectrum and Their Parents, SAP: Autism at Work: The groundbreaking Autism at Work program as well as our e-newsletter archive.
    • Free, unlimited posting of events, sessions, camps, social groups, etc on our calendar as well as our free, monthly e-newsletter which has 4000+ subscribers (posting for professional members only)
    • Invitation or join our professionals e-list (listserv) for message posting (professional members only)
    • Invitation to exhibit your services at one or more ASCEND educational workshops
    • Referrals of your services to clients who phone us for resources (professional members only).

ASCEND Individual Membership $25/year

ASCEND Family Membership  $45/year

ASCEND Professional Membership $160/year

Click to get a printable Membership Form in Word format.