December 2018



 ASCEND's College Panel Night Handouts

If you were unable to attend our recent sold out College Panel Night at West Chester University here is some information presented that night:


Understanding College Accommodations

Difference K-12 and Higher Education




ASCEND President's Message

Please consider supporting the ASCEND Group through my #GivingTuesday fundraiser on Facebook:

Facebook and Paypal are matching donations, so this is a perfect time to maximize your gift!


I am proudly serving as president of the board of directors of this special organization that provides resources, education programming, and social outings for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families.


The ASCEND Group is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization, and your donations are tax deductible.

Thanks in advance for your support!


Elena Perri
President, ASCEND Group


ASCEND's Upcoming Events 

MeetUp for Adults 18+ at King of Prussia Mall 

We will meet at the Primark store near the food court on the middle level of the King of Prussia Mall. We will get lunch (each will pay for their own) and then do some shopping. Robert, our host, will be wearing a blue Jeff cap.

Sunday, December 2
11:00 AM
 to 1:00 PM

RSVP by joining our MeetUp Group (free)

Hope to see you there!


Chips, Chocolate & 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., 12/16 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., 12/16 from 4-5 PM 
Ruttenberg Autism Center
1740 Walton Road, 1st Floor, Blue Bell, PA 19422


ASCEND Game MeetUp for Tweens & Teens

Ages 10-17 years old

Sun., 12/30 from 2-4 PM

Social Enrichment Center
542 Wesley Rd., Springfield, PA 19064

How to find us: 
The Social Enrichment Center is located at Hancock Methodist Church in Springfield. Entrance has red doors.

Free event but RSVP required via our MeetUp Group (free)

Highlight on ASCEND Professional Member

Amy McCann 
Carousel Connections

Amy McCann
Program Director
P.O. Box 36665
Philadelphia  PA  19107
Carousel Connections provides community experiences and training for teenagers and young adults focusing on next steps and building independence in the home, on the job, and on the go! At Carousel Connections, opportunities are provided to learn, maintain, and improve skills through participation in vocational training, independent living mentoring, and recreational activities. Programs include a six-week residential summer experience based on the campus of Haverford College, adventure weekends to the Pocono mountains, and family and individual consulting to share resources related to the transition process and readiness stage for living within the community. Carousel Connections also hosts community crews and volunteer day experiences to further develop vocational skills, build independence and self confidence, nurture relationships with organizations and community partners in the area, and foster inclusive living-learning experiences. Participants within community crews also have opportunities to access Supported Employment. 
Using creative and positive techniques, Carousel Connections offers varied opportunities for individuals to learn. Program goals include: Opportunities that provide life skills training to further support independence and build self confidence, Opportunities that provide vocational training experiences that may be used in employment, Authentic and inclusive living/learning experiences and activities, Coordination with families and individuals during the transition process that connects individuals to community resources, An experience with community living on a college campus.
Contact Number: 215-948-2527



Professional Events

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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.


Thursday, 11/29 at 6:00 PM

1847Financial, 161 Washington St, Eight Tower Bridge, Suite 700 Conshohocken, PA 19428

Wednesday, 12/12 at 7:00 PM

Hosted by: North Penn Parents Special Ed Council

North Penn SD Administration Building, Lansdale, PA


Hill Top Prep Admission Open House


This is a great opportunity to learn about the students we serve, our unique academic programs, and see our beautiful campus on a tour lead by our Student Ambassadors. 
RSVP here.

Open House is Saturday, 12/1, 9:30 - 11:30 AM. 

Free JAFCO Star Group (SIblings Together Are Remarkable)

This support group provides typical siblings of children with developmental disabilities a safe space to talk about their feelings with other children who share their experience.We are offering this free service in two locations: 

ABINGTON, Sundays 12/16
Location: Old York Road Temple-Beth Am (Rovinsky Family Youth Lounge) 971 Old York Road, Abington, PA 19001 Time: 1:15-2:15 PM (ages 7-11) 2:30-4:00 PM (ages 12-17)

MAIN LINE ,Wednesdays 12/19
Location: JAFCO Office 215 N. Presidential Blvd (2nd floor) Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004
Time: 4:00-5:00 PM (ages 12-17)
Registration Required! To register, please contact: 610-525-1040 or [email protected]


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.
This group will utilize an eclectic curricular approach as well as evidence-based practices in providing skill instruction to individuals with ASD. Skills are presented in a developmental sequence to ensure that participants obtain the foundational knowledge needed to develop higher order technical and workplace skills. Skill demonstrations, role-plays, work simulations and individual as well as group-based skill projects will be some of the key activities participants will be exposed to during sessions.
If interested please contact Reggie Candio at  [email protected]

Child and Art Therapy 
Empower Lunch Workshop

The Personal Power Project: Helping Children Stand Up To Bullies, Teasers, and Impossible Kids

From 10:30-11:30 AM in two locations:
250 W. Lancaster Ave. Suite 255
Paoli, PA, 19301 
- Tuesday, 12/11

5 Sentry Parkway East, Ste. 110
Blue Bell, PA 19422- Thursday 12/13



Adult Social Groups

Kristina Vacha, LCSW, LBS, MSS, MA Applied Behavior Analysis, Therapist, Behavior Support Specialist is forming an ongoing therapeutic support group for adults on the spectrum ages 25 and up. The purpose of the group is to talk about your experiences living as an adult with ASD and to discuss topics the group is interested in like employment and dating. Cost is $30 to attend. This group is appropriate for adults who are employed and or pursuing higher education. RSVP, completed registration form and facilitator approval are required to attend.

Kristina is also forming other therapy groups:

Contact [email protected] or 484-274-8957.





Local ASD News & Events

Link and Learn: Child and Adult Systems Exploration

Join us for a FREE interactive presentation of the child and youth/young adult serving systems within Bucks County. Families, young adults and professionals will discover how to build the bridge of support throughout the lifespan.

Bucks County Intermediate Unit #22
705 N. Shady Retreat Road,
Doylestown, PA 18901
Monday, December 10
10:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Lunch will be provided.
Space is limited. Please register by Thursday, December 6.
You may also register by calling Jocelyn Tumolo at 1-888-442-1590 or  [email protected]

Santa Event For Special Needs Children

Children with special needs and their families are invited to join King of Prussia Mall for Caring Santa. Families will have the opportunity to enjoy the annual holiday tradition of visiting Santa through a sensory-friendly festive event, in partnership with Autism Speaks. With an environment designed to support the sensory, physical and other developmental needs of children, Caring Santa will take place on Sunday, December 2, prior to each mall's opening, with no lines, crowds or music, but lots of fun and memorable moments. For more information, please visit

WHEN: Sunday, December 2
TIME: 9:00 - 10:30 AM
WHERE: King of Prussia Mall (Nordstrom Court) 160 N. Gulph Rd., King of Prussia, PA 19406

Walnut Street Theater is handing out FREE TICKETS to their  performance of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime"

When: 4/10/2019 at 11:00 AM
To reserve tickets, please email the following information to [email protected]

Your name and address 

Your organization (if applicable) 

Total number of tickets needed 

Total number of individuals on the spectrum (and ages if individual is under 21) 

Total number of attendees over 21 

Any special seating needs (such as wheelchair seating) This information is required for the grant that we have received to provide these tickets free of charge to you and to reserve your seats. Tickets will be mailed out early in the new year.

**This play is tailored to an adult audience and has numerous incidences of adult language throughout.


Research Studies 

Mealtime Experiences Study
For 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).

Young Children's Knowledge About General Event Representations
This will allow us to better understand the way children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) aged 6-12 years old think about routine social events.


Young Children's Knowledge About Categories of Foods
A study on the ability of children, ages 7-12, with an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis to categorize food items.


Transportation Study
We are looking for people who are 18 years and older with developmental disabilities to complete a survey asking questions about transportation. 


This is a research registry in which children and adults with or without ASD are asked to create a profile in order to be matched with currently enrolling research studies.

Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS)
Infants between 3-6 months of age with an older sibling who is diagnosed with an ASD are invited to participate.


Research on Autism and Developmental Disorders (ROADD)  
Children ages 3-5 with or without a diagnosis of ASD may be eligible to participate.

Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation (EARLI) 
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.


JAKE App Study
Children and adults ages 6 and older with or without ASD may take part.


 In the Media

Facility Would House Aging Parents Alongside Adult Kids With Disabilities
From Kristin F. Dalton, Staten Island Advance/TNS 

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. - Housing for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities has been scarce for years as the need continues to grow across the borough.

In 2015, there were over 50,000 New Yorkers with developmental disabilities living with a relative caregiver, many of whom are 60 or older. That number is likely much higher in 2018.

Diane Campione, special needs program coordinator for the New York Public Library, and Diana Thompson, lifestyle and engagement director at The Brielle, hope to get a pilot program off the ground that would ease the burden for seniors who are caring for a loved one with a disability..

Campione is the parent of a 22-year-old son with high-functioning autism.

The Brielle, an assisted living facility which has a capacity of 188 that currently operates at 96, is looking to start co-habitating seniors who are caring for an adult child with disabilities in the facility.

"This would be a unique option to keep families together and it has not been available before," Campione said.


What does childhood anxiety look like? Probably not what you think.
From by Katie Hurley

A 7-year-old is the perfect student but destroys his bedroom and screams at his siblings after school. A 10-year-old snaps at her mother constantly, criticizing just about everything she does. An 8-year-old cries every morning before school and clings to his parents each time they attempt to drop him off at school, sports events or birthday parties. A 12-year-old experiences headaches that make it difficult to get out the door on time. A 6-year-old can't fall asleep at night. Though all of these behaviors appear unrelated and present different challenges, they have one common thread: anxiety.

Anxiety disorders are on the rise among children, and anxiety tends to spike during the school year. A study published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics estimates that approximately 2 million American children and adolescents have a diagnosable anxiety disorder.


Program accomodates people with disabilities in museums, art exhibitions

An occupational therapy professor directs research to improve public experiences for people with autism-spectrum disorder.

Hearing sounds in only one ear. Blurred central vision but crisp peripheral vision. Difficulty blocking out background noise.

Many people with autism-spectrum disorder experience these and other struggles associated with hypersensitivity or decreased sensitivity to sensory information like sights and sounds that can make it difficult to enjoy being in public.

This is why occupational therapy professor Roger Ideishi started a program that makes art organizations and spaces, like theaters and museums, more inclusive for people with disabilities. Ideishi directs the faculty research program, which doesn't change the content of exhibits or performances, but makes sound and light settings more gradual and provides staff trainings on accommodating people who have disabilities, like letting individuals know exactly what to expect in a public space.

The program focuses on people with autism-spectrum disorder, but also helps provide accommodations for people with hearing disabilities and people who use wheelchairs.


Legal Disclaimer: ASCEND maintains the Professional Services Resource Directory and e-newsletter as a service to families and professionals as a reference tool. ASCEND does not endorse or claim to have personal knowledge of the abilities of those listed. The resources listed on this page are not intended as a recommendation, referral, or endorsement of any resource or as a tool for verifying the credentials, qualifications, or abilities of any organization, product or professional. Users are urged to use independent judgment when considering any resource associated with diagnosis or treatment of autism, or the provision of services related to autism.

ASCEND Group Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. We do not endorse any specific professional or therapeutic treatment. We are not meant to be a replacement for medical or legal advice. Our mission is to raise public awareness about Asperger Syndrome and related disorders, to advocate for improved education and services, and to provide support and information to the Asperger and autism community. This web site is for informational purposes only. Any link or mention on our web site should not be construed as an endorsement or recommendation. If you have questions about Autism or Asperger Syndrome, please consult with a qualified medical professional.