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: 


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., 7/29 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., 7/29 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]

ASCEND Professional Events Calendar & Professional Directory

ASCEND Professional Member Events
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If you are an ASCEND Organizational Professional Member and would like to submit a listing for our website, simply click below to complete one/more of the following forms:

Submit an Event       Submit Research      Submit a Service

Professional Members' Offerings:

Social Groups, Support Groups & Workshops     

Summer Camps/Programs   

Research Opportunities (New studies added!)

Professional Member Events:


Fick Educational Services: Free Parent Informational Event

Come join us for snacks and an informal training on Tuesday evening, 7/10, at 7 pm for a free parent informational event. Learn tips for helping your student start off the new school year on the right foot. Organizational strategies and executive function topics such as locker organizing, time management, and morning organization will be covered among others. It's never too early to prep for a successful September! 

camp pegasus medium logo 

You are invited to an Open House for Professionals and Educators
(Prospective Parents Day is 7/10)
You may have heard about this program. What's the secret behind its success? Learn the secrets behind effective social skills therapy and the Camp Pegasus program. Open houses will be held rain or shine on 7/10, 7/24 and 8/7 from 8:45-11:00 am at Camp Pegasus: Rosemont College, 1400 Montgomery Ave.,Rosemont, PA, 19010. 
Space at each open house is limited. Please RSVP to Camp Pegasus Office Manager, Debbie DeBenedictis, at (610) 649-1080 x1 or [email protected]. We will confirm and provide directions to our camp office for the open house check-in, welcome, and light refreshments. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes to walk in fields and climb steps!


Social Enrichment Center: Now Enrolling Young Adult Transition Sessions 


Young Adult Transition Sessions  Available for ages 18-21

1hr weekly group sessions available starting 6/27, meets Mondays from 4-5pm.
Designed to facilitate the transition from high school to either college or the workforce, this experience will develop the skills necessary to move into adulthood. Weekly sessions are designed to foster overall social skill development as well as guide individuals through the adolescent to adult transition. Sessions can be modified and individualized depending on need. Click on main title link for more details. 

Young Adult Transition Sessions Available for ages 21+ 
1hr weekly groups sessions available starting 6/28, meets Thursdays from 4-5PM 
Designed to facilitate the transition to, this experience will develop the skills necessary to move into adulthood. Weekly sessions are designed to foster overall social skill development as well as guide individuals through the adolescent to adult transition. Click on main title link for more details.   



Autism Spectrum Diagnostics & Consulting: Young Women's Groups

Young Adult Social Encounters and Relationships Group for Young Women starting July 2018 at Autism Spectrum Diagnostics and Consulting in Doylestown, PA. Groups are for ages 15-17 and 18-21. 
The group will focus on a variety of topics pertinent to Young Adults on the autism spectrum including: nonverbal communication, maintaining reciprocal conversations, dating and relationships, use of social media, consent, etc. Groups will start second week of July.
If interested in learning more about our Young Adult group and to sign up for our next session please contact Dr. Brittany Lyman.

Transition Conference Information: Scholarships Available for Conference
The PA Community on Transition Conference is giving out youth/young adult and family/caregiver scholarships for its 7/25-7/27 conference in State College, PA. The application deadline is June 30. Complete the application here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/confscholarship18


 Support ASCEND today!

 As a nonprofit organization, we depend solely on the support of our members. There are membership level options that make sense and are affordable for just about anyone.

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)
    • Invitation or join our professionals e-list (listserv) for message posting (professional members only)
    • 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)
    • 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.
    • 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.

Interested in volunteering? We welcome ASCEND members and non-members to sign up to volunteer on one of our committees. It's a great way to meet other people in our community and to give back! Please click here to sign up to volunteer.

Attention ASCEND Members:

One of the benefits of being an ASCEND member is the ability to access recordings of our recent informative sessions regarding employent and individuals on the autism spectrum:
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
To view/listen to these recordings, login and click the Member Landing Page in the top right corner. If you have forgotten your username/password, please let us know.

Research Studies

Research Study Form
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. 

Mealtime Experiences Study

The Mealtime Experiences research study is being conducted at the E.K. Shriver Center at UMass Medical School. The purpose of the study is to learn directly from young adults (18-23 yrs.)  on the autism spectrum who have food selective behaviors (i.e., dislike a lot of foods or eat fewer foods than most people their age), about whether and how their food preferences impact their mealtime experiences with family, peers, and/or community access.
Participants must be their own guardian, be able to fill out an online questionnaire independently, and be able to give detailed descriptions of their experiences in during an interview. The interview and questionnaire are done online. No travel is required. The study was developed with input from an individual on the autism spectrum, several family members, and clinicians who work with people on the autism spectrum. Contact us

Young Children's Knowledge About General Event Representations

Our research will allow us to better understand the way children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) think about routine social events, which may help to inform treatment options that help children to better recall their knowledge about the sequence of expected activities in everyday events. This knowledge can help them predict upcoming actions and thus to participate appropriately during these events. What are we doing? Studying the event knowledge of children with ASD, 6 to 12 years old, for a number of familiar routine, social events, as well as less familiar social events.
Your child will be given a small toy and your family will also be entered into a raffle to receive one of eight $25 Amazon gift-cards. For additional information, please click on the title link.
If you are interested in the study please contact the principal investigator, Stephanie Ruggiero, MA, at (516) 547-7897 or by email to schedule a time to participate in the study.

The Impact of Traits on Social Cognition Study

The goal of this Drexel University study is to learn how people understand moving shapes. This includes how thoughts, feelings, and experiences influence what people see. We are looking for adolescents and adults ages 16-35 years with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to help with this project. Participation is voluntary. You will answer questions, watch videos of moving shapes, and complete tasks on a computer. You can complete all study tasks at the AJ Drexel Autism Institute (AJDAI) in Philadelphia, PA. Alternatively, our study team may be able to come to your home to complete tasks.  All tasks will take about four hours with breaks. You can complete all tasks during one visit or two shorter visits. You will earn up to $20 for your time. Your contribution may improve our knowledge of how people understand and relate to each other. Contact Information: Lauren Bradstreet or call 215-571-4874.

Young Children's Knowledge About Categories of Foods

I am studying the ability of children, ages 7-12, with an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis to categorize food items. This study has relevance for discovering how we can help our children be more flexible thinkers in everyday life. If you are interested in participating, the following is asked of you and your child: 1. Your child will complete a short cognitive ability test (i.e., IQ test). 2. Your child will then complete a fun categorization task during which he or she will be shown pictures of a food item and asked which of two other food items are the same kind of food as the first item. 3. You will be asked to fill out a 3-part questionnaire (i.e., demographic information, 2 measures assessing autism symptoms). It should take no longer than 50 minutes for all parts to be completed. We can meet at a quiet and convenient location for you. Contact information: Lauren Steinbeck, M.A or call 732-947-6395.


We are looking for people who are 18 years and older with developmental disabilities to complete a survey asking questions about transportation. Developmental disabilities: 1) start at birth or during childhood; 2) are expected to continue throughout the person’s life; and 3) impact the person’s ability to perform in major life activities. Please click on above link for more information.

autismMatch is an online registry that can quickly and easily connect interested individuals and families with research opportunities to advance scientists' understanding of ASD and related disorders, such as ADHD, anxiety, 22q deletion syndrome, and others. Enroll here to be matched with studies tailored to your profile, and help researchers to understand the causes, characteristics, effective interventions, and access to support services for ASD and related disorders.
For more information, please contact: Kathryn Lowe [email protected]
Study Flyer (.pdf)

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. At the end of the study, you will receive an ASD diagnostic assessment and recommendations from our clinician. Families are compensated for time and travel. Please click on title link above for more information.

Research on Autism and Developmental Disorders (ROADD) 
Because there is very little research about the early development of ASD in young children, 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. A comprehensive evaluation and written feedback report with recommendations for treatment will be given. Families are compensated for time and travel. Please click on above title link for more information.

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. Mothers will be asked to complete questionnaires, do phone interviews and provide biological samples through pregnancy, at delivery and afterward. Two study visits, one in the clinic with your child with ASD for behavioral and developmental assessments and one at home are required. You will receive autism assessments from clinicians and compensation. Please click on title link for more information.

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. The total time commitment for the study varies depending whether you are typically developing or have ASD. Please click on above title link for more information.

Facing Puberty: Understanding Menses in Females with ASD 
The purpose of this study is to understand the onset, symptoms, and experience of menses for girls with ASD compared to typically developing peers. Girls with and without ASD and one of their parents are being asked to participate. The girls and their parents will be asked to complete several online surveys about their menstrual cycle, level of activity, food preferences and intake, and symptoms of anxiety.


In the Media

Pocono Raceway, visitors bureau unveil all-inclusive playground open to public By Christopher Holland

Pocono Raceway in Long Pond unveiled its new all-inclusive playground this week in a partnership with KultureCity, a nonprofit based in Alabama that helps children with autism. The playground was designed for children of all ages and abilities to learn, grow and play together.

It will it be in use during race weekends at the Monroe County raceway. It also will be available, free of charge, to local residents and those visiting the Poconos through the summer and fall, after June 3. The first big race on the raceway calendar this summer is the Pocono 400, June 1-3.


Movie about and starring autistic actors moves Jewish Film Festival crowd
From: http://www.jewishvoicesnj.org by Jayne Jacova Feld, voice staff

In the film "Keep the Change," David Cohen is a 30- something, upper-class dilettante who can't help but tell politically incorrect jokes.

He meets Sarah, a vivacious and confident ingénue, at the Upper West Side Jewish Community Center. They don't initially click. But as happens in all Manhattan love stories, the two fall for each other. A betrayal nearly tears them apart before love prevails in the end.

But the Best Picture winner in the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival is no typical rom-com: Sarah and David both are on the Autism spectrum. And instead of neurotypical Hollywood personalities portraying these romantic leads, nonprofessional performers who actually have autism own the roles.