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: 


FREE: Preparing for College: Supports and Panel Discussion for Students with Asperger's / Autism Spectrum Disorder & Their Caregivers

Darlene Hemerka Esq., will share information about the transition to college and beyond, including the following topics: 

  •  Define the transition planning process

  •  Give examples of transition services related to post-secondary education, independent living, and employment

  •  Describe the differences between getting disability-related accommodations in high school and college 

About our speaker: Darlene is a staff attorney at the Public Interest Law Center. She focuses on representing parents in IEP meetings, advocating for teens with disabilities in the Philadelphia School District, and teaching students and their families about transition services. In 2016, she received her J.D. from the Pennsylvania State University Dickinson School of Law. She received her B.A. in political science and urban studies, summa cum laude, from Rutgers University. 

When: Wednesday, October 16, 7:00 - 8:30 PM
Where: Trinity Lutheran Church 1141 West Chester Pike, Havertown, 19083

RSVP here. We are requesting anyone planning on attending to please RSVP to determine whether there is enough interest in this topic so that we may proceed with the session. 

MeetUp: (Adults 18+) Picnic in Rittenhouse Square

The Chit Chat Group in Philadelphia will meet on Tuesday, October 29 at 6:00 PM at Rittenhouse Square Park, weather permitting (by the goat statue).
Bring a blanket - and a game - if you'd like. 
To RSVP, join meetup.com (it's free) and then search for ASCEND Group.



   Grand Opening: Autism Treatment Center

  • Family fun with sensory activities for kids
  • Tour the center
  • Meet out staff
  • Light refreshments

Ribbon cutting with Mayor Chuck Cahn, Cherry Hill K9 Unit meet & greet and raffle prizes!

Please RSVP [email protected]


  Family Education Support Group: Coping Skills within the Family

We are honored to welcome Kaleidoscope’s Clinical Operations Director, Kelly Nydegger, MA, LPC, to discuss challenges in the home and how to utilize effective and strategic coping skills to manage everyday living with a special abilities adult child. Kelly joined the Kaleidoscope team in May as the Clinical Operations Director. As a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Kelly also works in private practice, primarily with young adults on the autism spectrum. Previously, Kelly worked at The Center for Autism in Philadelphia for 10 years, in the preschool, adolescent and young adult treatment programs. Additionally, throughout graduate school, Kelly worked at SPARC Autism Center, which provides feeding therapy and social skills groups for individuals on the autism spectrum. Kelly is passionate about supporting individuals with autism and developmental disabilities to build and maintain independence and social connections in order to live meaningful and fulfilling lives.

Please feel free to bring your adult child for a free social skills peer-support group ($5 for non-kfs members) as we will be making Halloween decorations. Refreshments Served. Please RSVP to Pam Frebowitz at [email protected]

Location: Bethel AME Church 50 S. Merion Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010 Parking in the front and rear of the property
Date: Tuesday, October 22nd Time: 6:30-8:00 PM

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., October 20 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., October 20 from 4-5 PM 
Ruttenberg Autism Center
1740 Walton Road, 1st Floor, Blue Bell, PA 19422

MeetUp Adults (18+) : Picnic in Rittenhouse Square

The Chit Chat Group in Philadelphia will meet on Tuesday, October 29 at 6:00 PM at Rittenhouse Square Park, weather permitting (by the goat statue).
Bring a blanket - and a game - if you'd like. 
To RSVP, join meetup.com (it's free) and then search for ASCEND Group.

 MeetUp Adults (18+) Bowling at Sproul Lanes
Let's get together to strike up some friendships and have fun bowling for a few hours. We'll meet at the front desk at 4 PM. 
Cost is $11 per person and includes games and shoe rental. 
Sunday, November 3 from 4 - 6 PM at Sproul Lanes 745 W. Sproul Rd. Springfield, PA. RSVP on https://www.meetup.com (it's free to join).


Sunday, January 12, 2020 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Dave and Buster's, 500 West Germantown Pike, Plymouth Meeting

Tickets: $35 per person (includes food, unlimited video games, $20 Power Card). The restaurant will open an hour early so that our group has exclusive use of the gaming area. 50/50 Raffle and Gift Basket Raffles!

Get your game on and support ASCEND! Purchase tickets here.


 Professional Events and Ongoing Groups:


Resource Fair for Adults with Special Needs

Dear Families, 

Valley Forge Educational Services invites you to join us as we host our 4th Annual Resource Fair  We bring 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. 
This event is free and open to the public We hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 10 from 6:00 - 8:00 PM at VFES Activities Center, 1777 N. Valley Road, Malvern PA 19355


  Upcoming 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.

1) Tuesday, October 15, 6:30 PM
Hosted by: YMCA of Bucks County - Newtown, 190 S Sycamore St, Newtown, PA 18940

2) Wednesday, October 23, 6:00 PM
Hosted by: Avon Grove School District, Avon Grove Intermediate School, 395 S Jennersville Rd, West Grove, PA  19390

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



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.

Groups of 8 will meet for 1 hour per week sessions starting Monday, October 28 in Doylestown, PA. Members will be grouped based on their age, language abilities, and goals for the group.

Openings for Children ages 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! 
Groups will be run on Monday afternoons/evenings for 1 hour per session for 8 sessions starting Monday, October 7, 2019.

Contact Dr. Brittany Lyman at [email protected] for more informatio

Mike Fogel's
 Art of Friendship

1) 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. 

2) emPower Lunch
Love with Limits: The Art of Friendship's Positive Behavior Support Plan for Home & School Reinforcement of Social Coping Skills, Cooperation and Self-Regulation

Parents, educators, and professionals are invited to FREE lunchtime workshops! Each month, Mike Fogel MA, ATR-BC, LPC presents practical and memorable social-coping skills and parent/caregiver reinforcement tips. These are the same strategies promoted at Camp Pegasus and the Art of Friendship Social-Coping Skills Program. 

Child & Family Art Therapy Center ~ 250 W. Lancaster Ave. ~ Suite 255 ~ Paoli, PA 19301
11:30 AM - 12:30 PM, Tuesday, October 8

 5 Sentry Pkwy Ste 110, Blue Bell, PA 19422,11:30 AM - 12:30 PM, Thursday, October 10



Kristina Vacha's Groups
Kristina Vacha, Clinical Social Work/Therapist, LCSW, LBS, MSS, MA

1) MeetUp Group: Autism Spectrum
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 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?

Download our Word membership form and simply send us your registration by US Mail: 

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.