February 2018



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. 

Warm regards,

Elena Perri


Teleseminar with Barbara Bissonnette 

Choosing the Right Job or Career: Tips for Individuals on the Spectrum and Their Parents

 Are you overwhelmed or nervous about choosing a job or career? Have you tried an occupation that didn't work out? Are you wondering whether a special interest could become paid employment?

This teleseminar is for individuals with Asperger's Syndrome and similar autism spectrum profiles, and their parents. It focuses on how to choose an occupation that will be manageable and emphasize areas of strength. Participants will learn: 

- Why decisions should not be based on interests alone

- Techniques for learning what a job is really like

- Why the work environment is crucial to success

- How to determine occupations to avoid 

The presenter draws on more than a decade of experience coaching individuals with Asperger's Syndrome/autism. 

About Our Presenter:

Barbara Bissonnette is a certified coach and the Principal of Forward Motion Coaching (www.ForwardMotion.info). She specializes in career development coaching for individuals with Asperger's Syndrome (and similar autism spectrum profiles) and Nonverbal Learning Disorder. She also offers parent consultations and training for professionals and employers.

She is the author of the award-winning Complete Guide to Getting a Job for People with Asperger's Syndrome; the Asperger's Syndrome Workplace Survival Guide; and Helping Adults with Asperger's Syndrome Get & Stay Hired: Career Coaching Strategies for Professionals and Parents of Adults on the Autism Spectrum.

Barbara earned a graduate certificate in Executive Coaching from the Massachusetts School Professional Psychology and is certified by Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (IPEC). 

This teleseminar can be accessed in two ways: either calling in by phone or logging onto a website. The call-in number and website information will be provided one day before registration. There will be a question and answer session following the presentation.  

Date / Time: Wed., 1/31 from 7:00PM - 8:15 PM
Fee: ASCEND Members: For free, Non-Members: $10.00
Join ASCEND today and attend this session free!

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., 2/11 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 

The parent/caretaker group will be held same time as the adult group session, "Chips, Chocolate and Chat," but in a different room. 
Sun., 2/11 from 4 - 5 PM
Ruttenberg Autism Center1740 Walton Road, 1st Floor, Blue Bell, PA 19422
Attendance is free, but please RSVP to [email protected]



Highlight on an ASCEND Professional: Making Real Connections

Making Real Connections (MRC)  

Do you want to help your children find?

  •    Ways to Connect with Others
  •    Balance at Home and School
  •    Solutions to Daily Challenges 
  •    More Ways to Adapt to Change       

Social Activity Groups give lessons for real solutions to align physical, mental and emotional health! In a strength- based atmosphere, MRC counseling area and reception area is family-friendly and clients receive a comprehensive approach to challenges related to Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADHD, anxiety and more. My commitment and dedication to you creates relationships  while Making Real Connections®. Please click here to read more about our mission.

MRC Social Activity Groups Social Activity Groups help children overcome social barriers with self-discovery  and character development in a safe group setting. Dance/Movement Therapy builds bridges of communication between peers and within groups in a variety of settings. Social activity groups for pre-school, grade school, tweens and teens as well as individual, couples and family therapy. Click here to find out about our creative arts kids' night!

New ASCEND Professional Member

Summit Clinical Associates LLC

Kristina Vacha, MSS, LCSW, LBS
: Therapist, Behavior Support Specialist

Above all else I am a good listener. I will give you the time and space to share your story and together we will explore your concerns and how you would like to address them. Using evidence based interventions including behavioral interventions and/or cognitive behavioral therapy I can assist you and/or your family member with ASD with issues related to anxiety and depression, life transitions, relationships, family dynamics, self-care/caregiver burnout, work/employment stress, and improving your overall well-being. I can help you understand the diagnosis and address related concerns such as accessing services, comorbid diagnoses, school truancy, transition to independent living, contact with law enforcement, and sexuality. I have additional training in trauma-informed care, LGBTQ, and suicide prevention. I also offer therapy to successful professionals with social anxiety and/or Asperger Syndrome. I am available for private therapy appointments at Building Bridges in Media PA. I am available for home and community behavioral support and/or counseling services for transitioning teens and adults 21 and up either through private pay arrangements (sliding scale available) or under state funded waivers through several approved provider agencies.
Contact me: email, or (484) 274-8957

ASCEND Professional Member Events & Services


 Explore a variety of summer camps, programs and recreational opportunities for children and young adults with special needs. The Special Kids Camp Expo is free and open to the community.


- Part-Day and Full-Day Programs from throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania

- Academic Programs

- Day Camps

- Extended School Year Programs

- Residential Camps

- Therapeutic Programs

- Community Resources

- Career Exploration Programs

- Workplace Readiness Programs

Sat., 1/27 from 1:00-4:00 PM at: VFES Activities Center, 1777 N. Valley Road, Malvern, PA 19355
Registration for Resource Providers is FREE! (Snow date: 2/3) 

Center for Autism Research: Next Steps Workshop for Parents / Caregivers of newly diagnosed children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

This workshop is geared toward parents/caregivers of toddlers through elementary school-aged children who have been recently diagnosed with ASD. Topics will include an overview of ASD, available therapy and treatments, how to decide which interventions to pursue and tips for accessing community supports and resources. 

Location: Roberts Center for Pediatric Research, 2nd floor Conference Center, room 2-170 on Wed., 1/31 from 9AM - 4PM.



emPower Lunch

February's Session: The Personal Power Project: Helping Children Stand Up to Bullies, Teasers and Impossible Kids.

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, the Art of Friendship Social Skills Program, and the Child and Family Art Therapy Center. We look forward to seeing you there!

Takes place at our Paoli Office on Tues., 2/6 from 11:30AM - 12:30PM. Click Here for Presentation Location Addresses 



 Register Today for the Work-Ready Digitability Program: 8-week job readiness program.

Ruttenberg Autism Center is now accepting registrations for adolescents and adults for an 8-week Digitability course (Stages 1 and 2) that will begin February 6, 2018. 

This unique program is designed to develop a person's interests into marketable skills for a variety of job types, while simultaneously building social and emotional capacity for the workplace.


All are welcome! No RSVP required! Contact Sara Crimm. Families CCAN is a nonprofit founded and led by parents and family members of adults with disabilities. We assist families to develop innovative models of housing, employment and living in the community for their adult family members. Families CCAN meets monthly for educational programs and networking opportunities for parents, family members, professionals and agencies.
Resource Meeting Mon., 2/12. TIme: 7 pm Networking & Refreshments then 7:30PM - 9:00PM Presentation




Research Studies

Transportation Survey

Beth Pfeiffer, Ph.D., OTR/L, BCP, Associate Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences,Temple University, College of Public Health
We are looking for people who are 18 years and older with developmental disabilities to complete a survey asking questions about transportation.

Adults with Autism Quality of Life Study

Jewish Family and Children's Service (JFCS), in collaboration with the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, is developing a Quality of Life questionnaire for adults diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder to improve assessing the needs of individuals in this population. Individuals will receive a $20.00 gift card for their participation.

Facing Puberty: Girls under 18 years old

Nurse researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are conducting a study on the experience of puberty and periods for girls with and without ASD. Parents and daughters will each receive a $10.00 e-gift card for completion of the online survey. Parents and daughters selected for interviews will each receive a $25.00 e-gift card upon completion of the interview. 

Center for Autism (CAR) Research Studies Flyer

University of Delaware's Move to Learn (M2L) - Autism Lab

Study 1: Play Intervention Study: Attention Parents and Children! 
Participating families receive 
$50 upon completion of all testing and the majority of training sessions.
Study 2: Adult Needs Assessment Study Attention Adolescents, Adults, & Parents! You will receive $20 as payment for participation. You can help by volunteering for our study.
UD's Autism Lab fNIRS Study: Families can participate in a study examining brain activity in infants, children and adults with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder, 3 months to 50 years; when performing various play or functional skills. Payment = $30 total.


Volunteers Needed for Research Study on: The Experience of Single Parents of Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder

To help deepen the understanding of the experience of single parents of adult children with ASD. Entry into raffle for a $50.00 American Express gift card.


Research Study on the Childbirth Experience

Would you like the chance to talk about your experiences during birth?  Autistic Women are being sought for a study focusing on the childbirth experience. All participants will receive a $50.00 Amazon gift at the interview.


Local ASD News & Events

LEAP (Literacy Enrichment Afterschool Program) 
This is a free program at Blackwell (and many others) library offering homework help, literacy and STEM activities for kids in grades K-12 Tuesdays-Saturdays.

Free Sensory Storytime  
free, sensory friendly storytime program for children on the autism spectrum and other special needs kids. Stories, songs, rhymes, music, movement, and lots of fun! Stay for play time afterwards. For children ages 5 and under, and their caregivers. Siblings are welcome. Takes place at Blackwell Library, Sat. 2/3 and 2/17 at 11:30 AM.

SDHP's Lunch and Learn Series: Exploring Independent Living  

The Pennsylvania Housing Choice Coalition presents "Lunch and Learn." a 6 session, 2nd Friday of the month, webinar series about independent living and different housing topics. This is a series of free educational webinars for individuals, families, and professionals who are exploring independent living and housing options. 

2/9 at 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
4/13 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
6/8 from 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM 
8/10 from 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
10/12 from 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM 
12/14 from 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

(This project is supported by a grant from the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council and administered by the Self Determination Housing Project of Pennsylvania)

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Blades of Steel Adaptive Ice Skating 
In partnership with the Flyers Sled Hockey Team will host an adaptive ice skating session. This is free and open to all people with disabilities and their families; free parking too!
Every Sunday through 2/18 from 9:30 AM -10:30 AM at Blue Cross River Rink.

Autism Society Greater Philadelphia and AMC: Sensory - Friendly Movies

AMC is proud to partner with the Autism Society to bring you unique movie showings where you can feel free to be you! We turn the lights up, and turn the sound down, so you can get up, dance, walk, shout or sing! 

1/27 Paddington 2
2/10 & 2/24 Peter Rabbit
2/13 Maze Runner: Death Cure
2/27 Black Panher 

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is now accepting applications for the 2018 Autism Campus Inclusion (ACI) Leadership Academy! 

The ACI summer leadership training prepares Autistic students to engage in disability advocacy on their college campuses. Accepted applicants will travel to Washington, DC and participate in advocacy training from June 16th to June 23rd, 2018. Participants will acquire valuable skills in community organizing, policy formation, and activism. Travel and lodging are fully covered by ASAN.Applicants must identify as Autistic and be current college students with at least one year remaining before graduation. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network will cover travel and lodging costs for all ACI students. Students in TPSID programs (Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities), 2-year community colleges, 4-year colleges, and graduate school are eligible to apply. We especially encourage students of color, LGBT students, low-income students, students with intellectual disabilities, AAC users, and students from other or multiply marginalized communities to apply.

To apply, please submit a completed application by Sunday, February 25th, 2018 to Reid Caplan at [email protected].

If you need assistance or accommodations at any stage, or have any questions about ACI, please contact Reid Caplan at [email protected]

In the Media

Living On The Autism Spectrum: Women Talk About Their Diagnoses As Adults
By: Lydia Brown & Lucy Nalpathanchil for http://wnpr.org

When you hear the words "autism diagnosis" it's common to imagine a young child or adolescent.

But what about those who receive their diagnoses at a later stage of life -- in the midst of successful careers or long, happy marriages?

Video Game Addiction
By Crystal Cranmore for http://www.pahomepage.com

Video gamers say it's very easy to get lost in virtual space. "Winning is everything," said Eric Quiacusan.

Quiacusan spends up to 4 hours a day after work trying to win. He admits  putting down the controller is hard, but says he still has a tight grip on life. "You just got to pull away. You got to realize you are not in the real world, you're in virtual reality," said Quiacusan.

But according to the World Health Organization, more and more people are losing touch with the real world and becoming addicted to video gaming.


You may be receiving ASCEND Group's E-newsletter, but are you an ASCEND member?

ASCEND members know that their annual subscription fees are being used responsibly and effectively to further the ASCEND mission.

ASCEND Group Inc.
Email: [email protected]


Legal Disclaimer: ASCEND maintains the Professional Services Resource Directory 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.