February 2019






ASCEND's Upcoming Events 

Barbara Bissonette

Register now!

Autism and Employment Webinar with Barbara Bissonnette


Interviewing Webinar: Tues., 2/19 from 7:00 PM - 8:15 PM  (session runs for one hour followed by a 15-minute Q&A)

Job Interviewing: Communicate Your Skills and Get Hired!

Do you wish that someone would explain the unspoken rules about what to say during an interview? Are you confused about the difference between marketing your skills and lying? Nervous about what to expect? This webinar is for you! You will learn: how employers evaluate candidates; how to prepare strong responses to anticipated questions; tips for avoiding common mistakes; the correct way to follow up; and the pros and cons of disclosing during an interview.

ASCEND Family and Organizational Members: Free (a code will be emailed to you)
ASCEND Individual Members: $10.00 (a code will be emailed to you)
Non-members: $20
Register before 2/19/2019 and receive an Individual Level Membership!

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., 2/10 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., 2/10 from 4-5 PM 
Ruttenberg Autism Center
1740 Walton Road, 1st Floor, Blue Bell, PA 19422

ASCEND Group MeetUp: Let's Play at KidzWorld Family Fun Center
Join us for a fun outing at KidzWorld Family Fun Center in Aston. Cost will depend on the activities your child/children would like to do. 
ages 6-13
Location: Kidz World Family Fun Center, 4441 Pennell Rd B, Aston, PA 19014
When: Sun., 2/10 from 1-3 PM

 ASCEND MeetUp for Adults

Let's do lunch at HoneyGrow for Adults (18+)
We will be gathering together for lunch and socializing at Honeygrow in Bala Cynwyd. Everyone will pay for their own food and drinks. We will arrange to have a table or tables for our group. More details about how to find us will be shared before the MeetUp.
When: Sat., 2/23, 12 Noon
RSVP on our MeetUp site: it's free!

Free ASCEND Game MeetUp for Tweens & Teens

10-17 years old
Social Enrichment Center, 542 Wesley Rd., Springfield, PA 19064
When: Sun., 2/24 from 2-4 PM
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 meetup.com  (free) and SEARCH for ASCENDGroup Event.

Highlight on ASCEND Professional Member: 

1847 financial logoAs a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER (CFP) and a Chartered Special Needs Consultant (ChSNC), these designations have provided Pat with the knowledge and expertise to address the unique circumstances and requirements of planning for families that have dependents with special needs, the core focus of his practice. Special Needs Planning addresses these key areas of planning: protecting & maximizing government benefits, creating the correct estate planning framework and analyzing funding strategies to provide for lifetime care & quality of life in the most tax-efficient manner possible.

To view our upcoming Spring 2019 Workshops click here. 

Contact Pat Bergmaier at: [email protected] or 215-317-4143

1847 Finanical, 161 Washington St. Ste 700, Eight Tower Bridge, Conshohocken, PA 19428

ASCEND Professional Events




 Family Support Group

Exploring Executive Functioning

Led by Laura K. Evak M.A., CCC/SLP, Speech Language Pathologist at Communiverse, this presentation will help you understand the definition and components of Executive Function (EF), increase your awareness of how EF impacts different aspects of daily living, socializing and learning, identify some indicators of EF difficulties, and a brief introduction to at least two strategies to aid in improving EF.

Tuesday 2/26 from 6:30-8:00 PM

Peer Support Groups... now every Tuesday!

Date: Tuesday, 2/5 

Time: 6:30-8:00 PM Independent Living: Cooking Class - Mini Assorted Pizzas

Date: Tuesday,2/12
Time: 6:30-8:00 PM Self-Esteem: "I Love Me" Valentine's Day Heart Art Project

Date: Tuesday, 2/19
Time: 6:30-8:00 PM Social Skills: BINGO

Date: Tuesday, 2/26
Time: 6:30-8:00 PM Coping Skills: How to Deal with Unpleasant Situations (Hand Project)

Pizza Served

Please RSVP to Pam Frebowitz at [email protected] 
or call 215-681-0172

All groups are open to the community! Family Support Groups are free however there is a $5 fee for peer support groups if you are not receiving waiver services from Kaleidoscope.

Refreshments and coffee served
Bethel AME Church, 50 S. Merion Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

Coatesville Location- 
Family/Caregiver Support Group:
Planning for Children and Adults with Special Needs

Randi Hope Steen, Esq., of Law Offices of Randy Hope Steen, Ltd. will discuss the importance of planning for children and adults with special needs, from appropriate Wills, Special Needs Trusts, the differences between Powers of Attorney and Guardianship, the choices we have to make as our children turn 18 and become emancipated, the importance of SSI, MA and why this is the gateway to the adult service world!

Thursday, 2/21 from 6:30-8:00 PM
Refreshments and coffee served

Location: Coatesville Area Public Library, 501 E. Lincoln Hwy. Coatesville, PA 19320


1847 financial logo



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.

Wednesday, 2/20 at 6 PM 
Hosted by: Garnet Valley School District
Garnet Valley High School, 552 Smithbridge Rd Glen Mills, PA 19342




Mike Fogel's Art of Friendship

Counter-Intuitive Parenting: Helping Your Child Copy with Anxiety, Worry & Stress


 Center for Autism Research: Next Steps into Adolescence


-A Workshop for those supporting children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who are approaching adolescence-

As children approach and enter the teenage years, they must deal with physical growth spurts, mindboggling hormone releases, and ever-changing and challenging social relationships. Children begin to care about being "cool," and classmates may no longer be as tolerant of "differences". For pre-adolescent children with ASD, these already complicated physical and social changes are compounded by the typical ASD difficulties of reading social cues and understanding the behaviors of others. Consequently, children with ASD approaching adolescence have greater transition needs than most typically developing pre-teens. 

Date: Thursday, 2/28 rom 9 AM - 4 PM

Roberts Center for Pediatric Research, 1st floor conference center, Room 1-120B, 2716 South Street ,Phila,PA 19146 

Contact: Susannah Horner, LCSW or 267-426-4910


Ongoing Professional Groups:


New Social Groups Forming

Fick Educational Services will be forming new social skills groups for the New Year! If your child struggles to make friends and could use some practice with team work or coping skills, consider a social skills group at FES. We form groups based on need and age and will tailor activities to suit the child's needs. Call us at 610-457-2199 for more information. 



 Mike Fogel's Art of Friendship

Social-Coping Skills Groups  are currently enrolling girls and boys between 4-18 years old in: Paoli, Haverford, Plymouth Meeting and Center City Philadelphia.

Social skills groups SHOULD NOT be one-size-fits-all. Different kids have different challenges! AoF differentiates Social-Coping Skills into the following skill areas to meet the needs of your client or student.

Girls' groups, boys' groups, and co-ed groups are offered for ages 4-18 years old. Contact the Art of Friendship admissions coordinator, Debbie DeBenedictis, at 610-649-1080, ext 1.
Pegasus Summer Camp Application & Registration Open!
We have started the application and registration process for summer 2019! As a reminder, Camp Pegasus provides a structured and successful day camp experience with an intensive social skills training component. Our camp is designed to support campers with social skill challenges- click below for more information. We welcome your referrals and would love to collaborate with YOU!
Who are our campers? 
Referring clients and students to CP is simple! Email camp administrative director  Aviva Moore here.



 Autism Spectrum Diagnostics & Consulting

1) 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]
2)  Lego®-based Social Skills Group Winter Sessions

Starts Thursday, January 31 in Doylestown, PA 

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!

Local ASD News & Events

Special Sibs - Siblings with Developmental Delays

The intention of this group is to create an online, relatable, and adult community of siblings of siblings with developmental delays.

Join on Facebook: Special Sibs - Siblings with Developmental Delays
Contact Allie Rosenstein 

Special Needs Prom

An unforgettable prom night experience, centered on God's love, for people with special needs. The amazing night includes dinner, dancing, karaoke, limo rides, photo booths and so much more! The King of Prussia, PA event is seeking donations to help us give our honored guests and their families a night to remember!

Note that the organizers are seeking volunteers and donors, in addition to participants.
Note that prom guests must be 14 or older.
Training videos are online, for "General/Buddies," "Food Service" and for the "Parent Lounge."

Hope Community Church in King of Prussia, PA is again proud to be an official host church for Night to Shine, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation. Night to Shine is an unforgettable prom night experience, centered on God's love, for people with special needs ages 14 and up, that will take place at more than 500 churches around the world simultaneously on February 8, 2019. Event highlights include a red carpet entrance, friendly paparazzi welcome, limo rides, hair & make up stations, shoe shine stations, dinner, karaoke, photo booth and of course, dancing!! Extra special treats for parents and caregivers too! For more information, contact Melanie Lyren at [email protected] or call 610-265-4981 ext. 812.

A history of the Night to Shine event is online at https://www.timtebowfoundation.org/night-to-shine-2019.


Kamp for Kids: Free BounceU Event

This event is held at BounceU for children ages 4-11 with autism and their families. All you have to do is sign up and show up!

Make sure you sign up quickly! Only the first 100 children will be admitted. When you sign up it is important to include how many children will be attending the event as well as how many adults will be attending.

Don't forget to bring your own socks!
When: Sat., 2/16 from 8:30 AM -10:45 AM
For questions about signing up contact Penni Morton: [email protected]
Please check out our website: kampforkids.org


 Autism Society Greater Philadelphia and AMC: Sensory-Friendly Movies 


February 9: The Kid Who Would Be King
February 12: Miss Bala
February 23: The Lego Movie 2
February 26: Fighting With My Family

AMC is proud to partner with the Autism Society to offer unique movie showings where we turn the lights up, and turn the sound down, so you can get up, dance, walk, shout or sing
Check asaphilly.org for updates. Movies and times are subject to change.

AMC Neshaminy 24, Bensalem, Pa 19020 215-396-8050
AMC Philadelphia (Franklin) Mills 14, Phila, Pa 19154 215-612-2740
AMC Marple 10, Springfield, Pa 610-328-5439


"Building Bridges: Best Practices Across the Lifespan" Conference
Foundations Behavioral Health in partnership with Ruttenberg Autism Center and PCOM will assemble the region's leading researchers and clinicians to present best practices in autism across four key age ranges: early childhood, school age, transition planning, and adulthood. The Director of the PA Bureau of Autism Services, Nina Wall, and Philadelphia City Councilman At-Large Derek Green, Esq., will kick off our conference, leading into a pivotal keynote presentation by renowned researcher and clinician Dr. Giacomo Vivanti,who will share some of the most exciting best practices in autism from research-to-practice.

Early Online Registration: $45 (now through 1/31)
Online Registration: $60 (until 2/22)
Walk-In Registration: $75 per adult

(Neurodiverse family members would be admitted at no cost when accompanying a paid registrant; advance online registration recommended.)

Review the conference agenda, speaker bios and additional details.


Last Call! We have given out 659 of the 700 free tickets to:

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 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

The Family Experiences with Wandering Study
The purpose of the Family Experiences with Wandering ("FEW") study is to improve the medical community's understanding of why wandering behavior occurs and how to prevent it. Compensation for your time.

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

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 


Think Different: Embrace Neurodiversity
By Doreen Ocamb for  thenonprofittimes.com

Think Different. It's more than just the slogan that Steve Jobs used to sell computers. It was his corporate philosophy - and it's no accident that some of the biggest technological advancements in the past 20 years came from Apple. Embracing, and more importantly supporting, people's cognitive differences creates a culture where innovation thrives and group think dies.

Fortune 400 companies are beginning to embrace and set up programs to help neurodiverse individuals succeed. It is time for the nonprofit industry to follow suit.


How L'Arche creates a community for people with and without disabilities to thrive

Meet Terry, a resident with intellectual disabilities who is thriving thanks to the L'Arche community in Atlanta, Georgia. L'Arche USA is a non-profit organization that provides homes and workplaces for people with and without disabilities to work together and form relationships.


The Autism Community Focuses on Jobs, Not Grievances
The members of our group don't think of themselves as victims. They're Tocqueville's heirs.
By: Michael S. Bernick for https://www.wsj.com

A group of 30 adults met in downtown San Francisco to discuss their difficulties in finding jobs and staying employed. They were joined that November Saturday by Ranga Jayaraman, a former chief information officer at Stanford's Graduate School of Business. They strategized how to help each other get jobs in the tech industry, and Mr. Jayaraman offered to introduce them to his contacts. Here's the twist: This was a local meeting of adults with autism, as well as family members and advocates.

Our group, known as Aascend-an acronym for Autism, Asperger Spectrum Coalition for Education, Networking and Development-is one of several autism mutual-support groups that have arisen across the U.S. I've been part of Aascend since 2011, as a family member of an adult with autism.


Teasing, condescension and other injustices against people with autism are rarely discussed. This is my experience.
First-person essay by Max Driks for https://www.publicsource.org

People usually only talk about the autism spectrum when they suspect there's a problem. We hardly ever look at the spectrum in a positive light. It's seen as a thing to cure, like a disease, not as just a part of who we are, like a birthmark.

I found out I might be on the spectrum around fifth grade. I don't even remember the exact time I found out because it was so inconsequential to me at the time. I was just walking with my mom, and our protective Corgi dog named Faye, when she told me.


The Psychiatrist Can See Your Child Now, Virtually
With a growing shortage of mental-health professionals for children and adolescents, more health-care providers are turning to technology
By Laura Landro for https://www.wsj.com

When Sarah Ford, 14 years old, was struggling with depression, hallucinations and suicidal thoughts last spring, her pediatrician in Springfield, Mo., was able to call in help from afar. Through a live videoconference link with Mercy Virtual, a telemedicine center three hours away, a child-psychiatry expert evaluated Sarah, prescribed a medication and set follow-up appointments.

With a rising number of teens and adolescents suffering from depression and anxiety, and too few professionals to help, remote video consults are helping pediatricians fill the gap in some communities. In recent years, more health providers have been turning to telemedicine for adult mental-health services, offering remote, real-time video and audio appointments with a psychiatrist or counselor for patients who don't have easy access to care. School systems, universities and health-care providers are now testing out such programs for children and teens.


Feds Weigh Changes To Work Rules For People With Disabilities
By Michelle Diament for disabilityscoop 

The Trump administration is planning to rethink existing regulations that radically altered the transition from school to work for people with disabilities.

The U.S. Department of Education is expected to issue a proposal this month changing how the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is implemented.

The 2014 law requires that individuals with disabilities age 24 and younger pursue competitive integrated employment before they can work in jobs paying less than minimum wage. Those already working for what's known as subminimum wage can continue to do so, but must receive regular career counseling and information about training opportunities.


Chrome Extensions for Struggling Students and Special Needs
By Eric Curts for https://www.controlaltachieve.com

Technology can be a powerful tool to assist students with special needs or any sort of learning challenge. In particular the Chrome web browser allows users to install a wide variety of web extensions that provide tools that can help all learners, regardless of ability level.

In this blog post we will take a look at over 30 Chrome web extensions that can assist students in five main categories:

  • Text to Speech
  • Readability
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Focus
  • Navigation
  • Some of the tools fit into more than one topic, but each is only listed once. Certainly this list does not cover all of the useful web extensions available for struggling learners, but it is a great place to begin. In addition to the list of extension, I have also linked in the videoand help guide from a webinar I did a while back on "Google Tools for Special Needs".


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.