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 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:



 Bryn Mawr Family Education Support Group plus a Peer Support Group:   Your Dependent with Special Needs - Making his or her Future More Secure Presented by Jeffrey L. Slavich, ChSNC, Financial Advisor

Topics will include:

  • Government benefit eligibility 
  • Guardianship and conservatorship/guardian ad litem 
  • Financial security and funding options

Please see Jeff’s presentation on the “10 Basic Steps for Special Needs Caregivers”.
Bring your child (18 and over) to a simultaneous social skills peer support group. Topic: Coping Skills - Glitter Jars for Mindfulness. Refreshments served.

Free and open to the community! 
Tuesday, July 23rd 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.



 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 have two groups now meeting twice a month at my office in Media. 
The first group is for adults on the spectrum both men and women who are fully employed or full time college students.   We meet at my office and also have social outings in the community which the group members are helping to plan..  You must do both because the group is working on skills to plan the outings and then discusses how it went at the next meeting.  There is an additional fee for group outings.  
My second group which is now meeting every other Wednesday evening is for men with ASD, may be employed FT or PT, or between jobs, and struggling with social isolation.  
The first step is to meet with me individually to determine fit for a group.  The cost for that consultation is $50. The group fees right now are $40 private pay and $50 if you will submit to insurance.


Please contact me if you have any questions or interest: [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.