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: 


MeetUp for Adults on the Autism Spectrum: Coffee Shop Hangout

Join us for a casual hangout, grab a coffee and snack, and meet other young adults from Philly!

There may be bright lights and noise from other patrons in the shop. I will try to reserve a quiet space for us in the back!

Subject: Coffee Shop Hangout (for adults on the autism spectrum)
Location: Good Karma Cafe (928 Pine St, Philadelphia, PA 19107)
Date: Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Time: 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm 

There is parking at 10th and South Street Parking:
Good Karma Cafe 1001 South St, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Public transport: bus 9,21,42 all stop near by

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.

RSVP on https://www.meetup.com.


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., 6/2 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., 6/2 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]


*Free Gamer MeetUp for Tweens and Teens

(Video games, board games, Legos, foosball & air hockey) 
Hosted by Elena Perri and Terry Peura from the ASCEND Group
*This event is free but RSVP through MeetUp.com  is required as space is limited. Once you join (it's free!) search for ASCEND Group. 

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 provided.

Sunday, 5/26 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM (Every last Sunday of the month)
Directions: Social Enrichment Center, 542 Wesley Road · Springfield 
How to find us: The Social Enrichment Center is located at Hancock Methodist Church in Springfield. Entrance has red doors. We fill up fast so please RSVP to reserve your spot!

  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.

May 21: Surrounded by the Spectrum: Family Dynamics

June 11: Managing Meltdowns

June 18: Guardianship & Financial Planning

When: Tuesday Evenings - 5 Sessions Total on May 7, 14, 21 & June 11, 18 
Time: 7 PM to 8:30 PM 
Cost: $35 per session for whole family or $125 for entire series 
Location: 390 Reed Road, FL 1, Broomall, PA 19008

Register and pay.



 Bryn Mawr Family Education Support Group plus a Peer Support Group:  Disablility Life Planning

Kaleidoscope is excited to welcome Michele A. Leahy, MS, founder and CEO of M. Leahy & Associates to discuss Disability Life Planning. If you have questions about applying for government benefits including SSI/SSDI and waivers, workplace incentives, adult supports, or disability rights, this is the workshop for you. Michele A. Leahy, MS, is Founder and CEO of M. Leahy & Associates, a firm dedicated to life planning for those with disabilities as well as their families. Michele understands disability challenges from both a professional and very personal perspective. After managing grants intended to navigate government benefits, including Social Security, Michele led the charge in Southeastern PA to reach out to students with disabilities and their families facing a future of uncertainty. She assists in developing strategies of funding special needs trusts with creating a roadmap to meaningful adult supports. Her drive led her to assist students with disabilities exiting the school system to develop a holistic planned approach of blending and braiding community and financial supports.
Bring your child (18 and over) to a simultaneous social skills peer support group. Refreshments served. Free and open to the community! Refreshments and Coffee Served.

Tuesday May 28th from 6:30 - 8:00 PM
Bethel AME Church, 50 S. Merion Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
(parking in the front and rear)
RSVP: Pam Frebowitz at [email protected] or call 215-681-0172.

 Next Steps for Professionals

This workshop is geared towards professionals who work with toddlers through elementary school-aged children who have recently been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. CEU's available. Parents/caregivers are also welcome to attend.
Contact: [email protected]  or 267-426-4910

 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