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: 


Adults 18+ Come hang out at Spruce Street Harbor Park!

We will meet at the entrance to Spruce Street Harbor Park at Spruce Street and Columbus Blvd.

There are a lot of different things going on at the park, including families, bars, food trucks, etc. It may be noisy or a bit crowded.

Tuesday, June 25th at 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Spruce Street Harbor Park Website: https://www.delawareriverwaterfront.com/places/spruce-street-harbor-park

Directions/Parking info: https://www.delawareriverwaterfront.com/places/spruce-street-harbor-park/directions-parking

PLEASE NOTE: The ASCEND Group is assisting with promoting the gatherings of this social group in Philadelphia. It is being organized by Chit Chat: Exploring Philly's Foods and Outdoors which is affiliated with the Philadelphia Autism Project. The purpose of this group is to create fun events and provide opportunities for social connections for young adults with autism (18+) sponsored by ASERT Seed grant funding.


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., July 14th 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., July 14th from 4-5 PM 
Ruttenberg Autism Center
1740 Walton Road, 1st Floor, Blue Bell, PA 19422




*Free ASCEND Game MeetUp for Tweens & Teens

10-17 years old
Social Enrichment Center, 542 Wesley Rd., Springfield, PA 19064
When: Sunday, June 30th 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 Events and 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 18: Guardianship & Financial Planning

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

Register and pay.



 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 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 Group
Contact: Admissions Coordinator, Debbie DeBenedictis, at 610-649-1080, ext 1.

Autism Diagnostics
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.

If interested, contact Reggie Candio at  
[email protected]

Kristina Vacha's Groups

Kristina Vacha, Clinical Social Work/TherapistLCSWLBSMSSMA

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

Contact [email protected] or 484-274-8957