March 2020






ASCEND's Upcoming Events


Bridges to Independence
Presenter: Dr. Alan Schnee

Wednesday, March 25
7:00 - 8:30 PM
St. Joseph's University
Connelly Hall, Room 120

In this 90-minute program, attendees will learn why teaching young children to identify and solve problems can open doors to independence, improve academic skills and reduce challenging behaviors. Attendees will leave with an understanding of: 

  • How solving practical problems leads to both Independence and engagement
  • The use of schedules: Toward greater independence and language acquisition
  • What we can do to improve memory/ executive functioning
This presentation is geared toward parents with children in preschool through elementary school.

Cost: FREE for ASCEND Members (up to three people); $5 per person for non-members

Join ASCEND for only $45 a year for families.

Register here.


Alan SchneeDr. Alan Schnee is a clinician, author and public speaker on effective autism intervention for young children. He has been working with children on the spectrum for almost 30 years. For 10 years, he ran a center-based autism intervention center in Northern New Jersey and has now moved his work here to Marlton, NJ to meet the unmet needs. He studied under ABA pioneers at Princeton Child Development Institute, and with Dr. Bridget Taylor from the Alpine Learning Group in Bergen County. 


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+
Date/Time: March 22
 from 4-5 PM
Please click here for directions to our new location.


Discussion Group for Caregivers
Runs simultaneously but in a different room than the adult social group.

Attendees: Caregivers of adults on the autism spectrum
Date/Time: March 22 from 4-5 PM
Please click here. for directions to our new location.

Gaming Meetup (ages 10 - 17 years)

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.

Sunday, March 29 from 2:00 - 4:00 PM

How to find us: The Social Enrichment Center has moved to 216 South Orange Street in Media. Parking available.

RSVP on (free to join; then search for ASCEND Group).

Non-Verbal Communication & Social Communication Workshop 

WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION: Social communication occurs in the home, school, work and community and with a variety of people.  Additionally, social communication rules vary depending on every social context across the landscape of humanity.  How very confusing!  People with social learning challenges and their communication partners will benefit from this workshop.  Susan Paul, a speech/language pathologist and founder of Communiverse® will arm you with strategies to foster positive relationships and functional communication strategies in this interactive workshop geared toward people of all ages.

Please note new date:
Tuesday, April 21 from 7:00-8:30 PM at The Greater Plymouth Community Center, 2910 Jolly Road, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462

Register now.

Cost: FREE for ASCEND Members (up to three people); $10 per person for non-members
Join ASCEND for only $45 a year for families.

Susan Paul


Susan Paul is an American Speech-Language-Hearing Association certified speech/language pathologist with over 35 years of experience. She attended the University of Maryland and received her bachelor's and master's degrees from Temple University and received her teaching certificate from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 

As a private practitioner, Susan has consulted with preschools, schools, and early intervention programs, and has provided individual and group therapy for people of all ages.

In her group private practice, Communiverse®, she and her associates pride themselves in fostering effective and functional communication techniques by utilizing the most recent research, and a team approach, while drawing on individuals' strengths. In her capacity as an expert in the field of autism, Susan was featured on Friendly Neighborhoods, a cable television program produced by La Salle University. 

Susan has presented workshops to both professionals and laypeople on the topic of autism, social communication, early child language, and learning and literacy development.


ASCEND Group MeetUp: Adults 18+ 

Let's Have Fun at Round 1 in Philly!

Round1, 1001 Market St., Phila, 19107
Saturday 4/4 from 12-2 PM
We'll grab lunch and have fun checking out the new Round1 in Philadelphia. We will meet near the front entrance.

Join (it's free) and search for ASCEND Group.

New ASCEND Group Organizational Member

NeurAbilities Healthcare

NeurAbilities Healthcare is a provider of neurological, neuropsychological (including biopsychosocial and ADOS assessments), ABA services and other behavioral consultations, and therapeutic services in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Through our interdisciplinary approach to care we provide comfort, hope and answers that transform the lives of neurodiverse individuals of all ages, and their families.

Upcoming Events
Open House - World Autism Day, April 2 Noon to 2:30 PM (170 N. Henderson Road, KOP)
Open House - "Come and Play" for Adults with their Children, April 4 9:00 AM to noon (170 N. Henderson Road, KOP)


Organizational Members'
Summer Camps

Hill Top Preparatory School logo

Hill Top Preparatory School

Hill Top Summer Adventures 

This camp features innovative social and independent skill programs for students entering grades 2 through post-graduate. Our Summer Camp program is a traditional day camp consisting of exciting outdoor, STEM, and arts activities. Pathways To Independence is a great way for high school students to learn the skills necessary for success at college at beyond. It culminates in a week-long stay at Cabrini University. Summer Innovators focuses on problem solving and work-related skills for students in grades 11 and beyond. 

June 22 - July 31, 2020

Camp Brochure.


Application & Registration OPEN

We have started the application and registration process for summer 2020! 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!

PICTURE how you will feel after a summer in which your child is...

...completely UNDERSTOOD and properly SUPPORTED by all camp staff.

...EMBRACED and not punished for social miscues or emotional reactions.

...CELEBRATED for his unique gifts.

...taught and EMPOWERED to make friends.

...HAPPY at pick-up time, saying,, "I had a great day today." (and shares details!)

IMAGINE a summer in which...

...your child LEARNS powerful social & coping skills to SUCCEED socially & academically when school resumes feel fully CONFIDENT your child will be OK at camp,

...your child finally tastes the JOYFUL SUMMER that ALL children deserve.

Registration now open!



ASCEND Professional Events


Experience Hill Top Preparatory School at an Open House this Spring:Upcoming Opportunities for Prospective Families & Professionals
Wednesday, March 4 from 9:30-11:30 AM
Wednesday, April 1 from 9:30-11:30 AM
The agenda is as follows:
9:30-9:40 AM - Registration
9:40-10:30 AM - Program Presentation by Hill Top Prep Administration
10:30-11:00 AM - Campus Tours led by Student Ambassadors
11:00-11:30 AM - Q & A 
To attend either of these events, PLEASE RSVP to Meredith Fitzpatrick in the Admissions Office at 610-527-3230, ext. 624 or  [email protected]. If you are unable to attend, please contact us to schedule time that is more convenient for you to visit us!

Life on the Spectrum: A Panel of Autistic Adults

Join us for a panel discussion about autism, adulthood, self-esteem, relationships, living your truth and being your most confident self while on the spectrum.
Saturday, March 21 from 10-11:30 AM at
A Step Up Academy, 520 Meetinghouse Rd., Jenkintown, 19046.

 Upcoming 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, March 12, 6:30 PM
Hosted by Neshaminy School District, 
Maple Point Middle School, 2250 Langhorne-Yardley Rd Langhorne, PA 19047

Wednesday, March 18, 6:30 PM
Hosted by Kingsway Regional School District, Location TBD in Woolrich Twp, NJ - stay tuned!

Thursday, March 19, 7:00 PM
Hosted by Chester County Right to Education Task Force
Chester County Intermediate Unit, 455 Boot Rd Downingtown, PA 19335

Thursday, March 26, 5:30 PM
Hosted by Radnor Township School District, Radnor HS - 130 King of Prussia Rd Radnor, PA

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


March Presentations


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. 

Two Locations:

The Downward Spiral: Coping wth Negative Thinking in Mood Disorders, DMDD, and Childhood Depression

Paoli, PA - Tuesday, March 24
Plymouth Meeting, PA - Thursday, March 26
Workshops run 11:30-12:30

RSVP please.

 Family and Peer Support Group Meeting:

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 
Bring your adult or young adult child for a simultaneous social skills peer support group. Activity: Clover Suncatchers!

Tuesday, March 24 from 6:30 - 8:00 PM
Bethel AME Church, 50 S. Merion Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
(parking in the front and rear).

Can't make it? Dial in to join us LIVE on ZOOM. Contact [email protected] for a ZOOM invitation

Professional Member Ongoing Groups:

A Step Up AcademySurviving and Thriving

A group where parents of children with autism can find connection, inspiration for parenting and self-care, and lots of support! 

Free childcare provided with advance registration. Scholarships available!

A Step Up Academy, 2450 Hamilton Ave., Abington, PA 19001
Saturdays from 10 - 11:30 AM: March 14, April 18 and May 16.




Autism Spectrum Diagnostics and Consulting's LET'S GET M.A.A.D. (MANAGEMENT OF OUR ANGER, ANXIETY, AND DEPRESSION) 

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. 
The group consists of eight, one hour per week sessions starting Monday, January 27 in Doylestown, PA. Members will be grouped based on their age, language abilities, and goals for the group. 
2) Teen Boys Group

Teen Boys/Young Adult Social Encounters and Relationships Group starting Monday, January 27 at Autism Spectrum Diagnostics and Consulting in Doylestown, PA.

The  group  will focus on a variety of topics pertinent to Teen Boys and Young Adult Males on the autism spectrum and/or with social emotional difficulties including: nonverbal communication, maintaining reciprocal conversations,  dating  and relationships, use of social media, consent, etc. 
3) Lego®-based Social Skills Group 

Openings for Children ages 5-6, 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! 

Adult facilitators provide feedback and coaching in real-time targeting skill development in the areas of cooperation, problem solving, reciprocal conversation, joint-attention, and flexibility leading to increased maintenance and generalization of skills to other settings. Most importantly, Lego®-Club becomes a place where children identify with a peer group, build friendships beyond the confines of the club, and find a place where their peers and adult coaches understand, encourage, and celebrate their talents. 

Groups will be run on Monday afternoons/evenings for one hour per session.

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


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

(Now accepting Cigna for outpatient therapy)

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.

1) MeetUp Group: Autism Spectrum Connections

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 (it's free!) and search for 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.

Local ASD News, Events & Resources

2020 Disability and Mental Health Summit to be held in Pittsburgh

The Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) Medical Director and Clinical Director are slated to present at the annual Disability and Mental Health Summit, hosted by Representative Dan Miller. Held March 3rd at the David L Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, the event celebrates the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Over 40 planned sessions focus on both disabilities and mental health. The Summit expects over 150 exhibitors and a Resource Fair to run from 8 AM to 7 PM.

Penn Speaks for Autism Free Weekly Tennis and Dance Classes for Children and Adults!

Penn Speaks for Autism is a student led group through the University of Pennsylvania that works to create activities and events for people with autism and their families. They host weekly free tennis and dance classes that last 45 minutes to an hour for children with autism and their families.

They are also beginning programming for adults with autism in March and are hoping to expand our programming to include more families.

Please contact  Kaitlin Henry at [email protected] for more information.


ACES 2020

Augmentative Communication and Empowerment Supports

July 25 - August 7

ACES is a two-week intensive training and on-campus experience program for young adults who use AAC - Augmentative and Alternative Communication.

Join us to enhance your communication, computer access, self-empowerment, and independence. Get support in the transition to college, community living, employment, and beyond.

Find your voice at Temple: [email protected]


Applications are open for the 2020 Autism Campus Inclusion (ACI) Leadership Academy! The ACI summer leadership training prepares Autistic students to engage in disability advocacy on their college campuses.  ACI participants learn about making student groups, understanding disability policy, and talking to people in power. After the Academy, students get help from ASAN to meet their advocacy goals at their college.  ACI participants will travel to Washington D.C. from June 13th to June 20th, 2020. ASAN pays for travel and rooms for all ACI students.


PMHC After School Program

PMHC has an after school 0-4, Monday through Saturdays for two age groups:
5-12 years and 13 and up. Contact Thelma Bryant or 215-598-0223, ext. 123. 

Northeast Philadelphia Support Group Navigated by Families

Welcomes individuals, parents, family members, friends of an individual with intellectual disabilities, autism and other abilities.

Free parking, SEPTA Bus Routes 19 and 50

From 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM every third Wednesday of the month: September-June at 9360 Ashton Rd. Philadelphia, PA 19114

RSVP and for more information: Joan Nelson or 267-642-1321

Drexel University Presents:
The Eighth Annual Autism Public Health Lecture

"Nothing About Us Without Us:
Autistic People Shaping Research and Policy About Our Lives"

Wednesday, March 18 from 9:00 - 11:00 AM

Behrakis Grand Hall, Drexel University, 3210 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104

Special Olympics Philadelphia

Young Athletes provides an opportunity for children with and without intellectual disabilities to come together with a coach for organized play while family members get to share in the fun! Through structured games, activity stations and songs, athletes gain motor skills like balance, flexibility, strength and coordination while having fun with friends!

Philadelphia Autism Network (PAN)

A workshop series open to ALL families and professionals who support individuals on the spectrum.

Free and open to the public. No registration needed for families. If you need childcare or language translation services, please let us know!

The First Session:
Communication: The Basic Know-Hows for Families Speech-language therapy strategies for families with children on the spectrum. Jennifer Moore M.A., CCC-SLP
Wed., March 18 from  5:30 - 7:30PM 

Location: Falls of Schuylkill Library, 3501 Midvale Ave Philadelphia, PA 19129


Real Rap on Resilience

FREE Event for Parents/Caregivers and Service Providers of Adolescents & Young Adults with Special Needs At this free event you will learn about programs and services in Philadelphia that can help enhance the life of adolescents or young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and/or with mild intellectual disability. You will also have a chance to add to the conversation! What services have been helpful to prepare your child to thrive and what other services would be helpful? What are your hopes and dreams for your child's adult life? What challenges do you face as a parent/caregiver preparing your child for adulthood?

Give Your Feedback on Mental Health

Governor Tom Wolf recently announced the initiative "Reach Out PA: Your Mental Health Matters." The goal of Reach Out PA is to expand mental health resources and alleviate the stigma associated with reaching out for support.

Help improve the state of mental health in Pennsylvania. Complete the form below and tell us: What's working? What can improve?

We will not share any identifying information without your permission. You may submit your form anonymously if you wish to do so. Your feedback will help inform the governor's efforts to improve mental health care in Pennsylvania.


Family Advocacy Clinic

The Family Advocacy Clinic supports families "find their voice" and strengthen advocacy skills. Specifically, we help parents and to understand and communicate which resources and actions can help address challenges related to education, health and social wellness. We explain legal rights but do not offer any legal advice or services.

Contact: 610-723-4108 | within two business days

Special Education Parent/Family Support Group

Become Involved With Your Local Task Force !!! The Local Task Force (LTF) - is a Parent / Family Support Network Group for Families that Have a Child with a Disability. The Local Task Force membership consists of parents and family members of children with disabilities, local IU representatives, local MH / ID office, the Local Arc, area school districts and charter schools, and additional agency outreach programs. The function of the Local Task Force is to support each other through dialogue, trainings and networking.

Any further questions, please contact Keith H. Focht, Chairperson of the Right to Education State Task Force, at 717-783-6921 or [email protected]

DBHIDS Respite Care

The Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services offers respite care. Respite care is short-term care for children ages 6-17. Children with a behavioral health diagnosis are eligible for short-term care.

Contact DBHIDS at 215-685-4746, 215-685-4740 or visit us online.

Sprout Film & Travel Update

Our 2020 brochure of vacations for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) is available :

We continue to add amazing films featuring people with IDD to our Sproutflix catalogue. If you would like to view the latest additions:

AECOM is Recruiting Qualified Individuals with Disabilities at its Conshohocken Office

AECOM is a premier, fully integrated infrastructure and support services firm. AECOM is ranked as the #1 engineering design firms by revenue in Engineering News-Record magazine's annual industry rankings and has been named as one of Fortune magazine's World's Most Admired Companies for the third consecutive year. The company is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves, including transportation, facilities, environmental, energy, oil and gas, water, high-rise buildings and government. AECOM provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world's built, natural and social environments. AECOM has nearly 100,000 employees and serves more than 150 countries offering global expertise. For more information about AECOM please refer to our brochure or visit our website at To view our "How To Apply Online Guide," click here. You can view the Conshohocken job postings here. Some include intern, management and engineering positions. 
New Positions in Conshohocken:

New! Remediation Practice Dep 

New! Entry Level Structural Engineer

New! Entry-Level ITS/Traffic Engineer

New! Entry Level Aquatic Ecologist

New! Entry Level Engineer


Research Studies

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. Use this Research Study Form to submit If you would like to submit your study.

New! Online Research Study: Physical Activity and Nutrition Habits of Young Adults with ASD and their Parents
Researchers at the University of Virginia are conducting a nationwide survey of parents to understand physical activity and nutrition habits of young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). You will be asked to complete an online survey with questions about your physical activity and nutrition habits as well as your adult child's physical activity and nutrition habits. The survey is completely anonymous; we are not asking for names or any personal information, The survey takes about 20 minutes to complete. The University of Virginia's Institutional Review Board (IRB) has approved this study, and all participants will receive via email a $20 Amazon gift voucher. Questions? Feel free to email the study director, Dr. Martin Block from the University of Virginia.


Social Communication Skills Study

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia just began a large study to understand communication differences in teens between the ages of 12-17 with or without Autism, Anxiety, Depression, and/or ADHD.

The study includes a complete diagnostic evaluation and feedback with CHOP clinicians, and participants will receive compensation for their time.

Contact Amanda Riiff at [email protected] or
267-425-1192 with interest or questions.


PARSEC is an intervention done by phone aimed at helping young adults (18-25) with ASD increase their community participation activities in non-urban areas of PA.

Are you a young adult with autism who would like to better engage with your community? 

ABOUT OUR STUDY This study will evaluate an intervention designed to help young adults with autism increase participation in their communities. 
Recruitment Flyer.
FOR MORE INFORMATION Jayde Nagle 717-531-0003 ext. 285543 [email protected]

The Prevalence of Genetically Linked Autism & Vitamin D Deficiency in Hispanic Families

Contact Faith Hess, RN, for Thomas Jefferson University Hospital at [email protected]


The Experiences of Stigma, Stress, and Social Support Amongst Fathers of Children on the Autism Spectrum  

Are you a father of a child or teenager (ages 5-18) with autism? Have you ever felt that people don't understand what your life is like and how you feel? Have you ever been rejected, judged, or embarrassed by friends, family, or even complete strangers because you are the father of an amazing and wonderful child with autism? Your experiences as a father of a child with autism are unique and important. As a parent, you are the only person who really knows what it's like to raise a child with autism. You have experienced the ups and downs, the laughter and tears, the joy and pain. We are inviting you to participate in a research study and share your experiences of stigma, stress, and social support. Your perspective will increase our understanding of what your life is like. You can help us know how it feels to be a father of a child with autism.

What do you do in the study? Parents will be asked answer questions via an online survey about your experiences as a father of a child with ASD. The entire survey should take approximately 20 minutes to complete. As a small token of appreciation for your participation, you may choose to be entered into a raffle for one of four Amazon Fire 7 tablets.

SPARK for Autism 

We are enrolling any individual with autism spectrum disorder and their biological parents into the nation's largest autism study, called SPARK. The goal of SPARK is to speed up autism research and find the genetic causes of autism. All participants enroll online at and then provide a saliva sample via kits that are mailed to the home. Families who return the saliva collection kits will receive compensation and access to free webinars and an interactive and informational dashboard.
For more information: 267-426-4971 [email protected]

Police Safety Study 

We are looking for teens and adults ages 12 and older with autism spectrum disorder to participate in a research study testing two different methods of helping people with ASD learn to interact with police officers. One method will use virtual reality (VR) and the other uses video modeling (VM). Participation in this study involves one to three visits to CAR for VR or VM intervention and complete questionnaires. Participants will be compensated for their time.
For more information: Ashley Zitter, [email protected]


Social and Motor Communication Study 
The goal of this research study is to better understand differences in the way children with autism move their bodies and faces compared to children who are developing typically. Children who are diagnosed with ASD or who are typically developing are invited to participate in this study, which will include a visit to CAR to complete simple social skills tasks, motor behavior and language tasks as well as an IQ test. Participants will be compensated for their time and effort and will receive a brief report of their behavioral and IQ tests results.
For more information: [email protected] 

Orbiting - For Repetitive and Restrictive Behaviors 

No two people with autism are the same. And of course we wouldn't want them to be. We're looking for children and adults with autism between the ages of 5 and 17 to join the Orbiting Study. Orbiting will help us to better understand the different scales used to measure certain behaviors associated with autism. We'll also ask what wearable technologies can tell us about autism.
For more information:
Jessica Tschida, 267-425-1179

Transportation Survey

We are looking for adults with autism ages 18 and older to participate in a study looking at the impact of travel training on use of public transportation to access the community (i.e., social events, medical appointments, work).

Participants receive group and individual travel training instruction from occupational therapists and peers on how to use public transportation such as buses and trains. 
Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS)

In an attempt to learn about patterns of brain development in children, we are studying the differences in brain patterns between children with autism spectrum disorders and typically developing children. 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 Developemental Disorders (ROADD)

This study will observe young children to learn more about the biological underpinnings of ASD. Children ages 3-5 with or without a diagnosis of ASD may be eligible to participate. 

Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation (EARLI) 

This ground-breaking study is looking at possible environmental and genetic links to autism. 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
With the use of new mobile app technology, this study aims to develop a mobile app-based system to monitor clinical outcomes in children and adults with ASD vs. typically developing children and adults. Children and adults ages 6 and older with or without ASD may take part. 


In the Media

Accommodating Distracting Workspaces
By James Potts for

Maybe your desk is in the middle of a new open-floor office space your employer decided to lease. Maybe your colleagues are a bit too talkative throughout the day, or you have a private office but it's situated right beside the break room in a high traffic area. There can be many distractions in the workplace that impact an employee's ability to focus on their work. For individuals with certain disabilities, the capacity to concentrate is already impaired and these additional interruptions can significantly affect their ability to maintain substantial employment.
Recently, I spoke with an employer trying to help an employee with Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) after they switched buildings into a much smaller space. In the previous location, the employee was in a shared space with one other coworker. However, in the new location the employee will be sharing office space with eight co-workers. Consequently, the employee was requesting a reasonable accommodation of a private space to limit distractions and allow her to focus on her work. I spoke with the Human Resources (HR) manager who explained there was no space to provide this employee with a dedicated private space. She explained that even upper-level managers were sharing offices at the new location.
Community living operators turn to Nestidd for real estate management.
By Harold Brubaker STAFF WRITER for
Patricia Menszak manages 26 group homes for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Delaware and Chester Counties.
And one house, in Drexel Hill, no longer suits the three women who live there, because they can't climb stairs anymore.
Instead of having to find a replacement house herself, Menszak turned to Nestidd, a two-year-old start-up that buys single-family houses, customizes them, and leases them to service providers like the one Menszak works for, Catholic Social Services. The company also offers to cut the grass, remove snow, and perform other maintenance.
On a recent Monday night, a first-period goal by the Flyers' Kevin Hayes sliced Boston's lead in half and triggered a cacophony of celebration at the Wells Fargo Center. As 19,246 fans screamed in delight, a foghorn roared, sirens wailed, colored lights flashed in a kaleidoscopic swirl.
Meanwhile, in the arena's soundproofed Hall of Fame Room, 15-year-old Ryan Heit tilted his head almost imperceptibly toward the muffled sound, then turned back calmly to the iPad occupying his attention.

I am a student and researcher studying evolutionary genetics, and I am autistic. I often come across papers on autism research, but unfortunately, reading them is rarely a positive experience.
Too much autism research fails to acknowledge autistics as people who can read and make valuable contributions to the field. Instead, it casts them as little more than passive study participants or recipients of treatment.. This shortsightedness damages research and scientists' ability to help autistic people.
Reading autism research as an autistic person can feel like being treated as an alien. For example, consider a 2019 paper that stated: "This finding reinforces other work which shows that autistic people can have, maintain, and value close romantic relationships and friendships." Imagine how bizarre it would be to read that about yourself.

Mental-Health Requests Strain Employers

Companies try to keep up with rising need for special arrangements among young workers


Managers and younger employees are struggling to adapt as a generation of people with higher rates of reported mental illness enter the workforce.

Many of these new workers are coming to offices from colleges and high schools where they received accommodations, such as extra time to take tests or complete assign-m ents-in some cases from elementary school onward. They are confronting a world of work that operates under different legal standards and less-flexible pressures and deadlines.


Restricted interests and repetitive behaviors constitute one of two criteria that define autism in the diagnostic manual for psychiatry.

But this domain encompasses a wide range of traits that may appear in a variety of combinations, and with different severity, among people with autism. Here, we describe the changing understanding of the importance of repetitive behaviors in autism, and the movement for their acceptance.

What are repetitive behaviors?

Scientists categorize repetitive behaviors into two groups. So-called 'lower-order' repetitive behaviors are movements such as hand-flapping, fidgeting with objects or body rocking, and vocalizations such as grunting or repeating certain phrases. 'Higher-order' repetitive behaviors include autism traits such as routines and rituals, insistence on sameness and intense interests.


ASCEND's Member Cybrary:

Our ASCEND members can take advantage of our Member Cybrary where they can listen to an audio recording and/or view the slides of online webinars and in-person educational sessions we have presented. 
The list now includes: 

  • Preparing Students with Disabilities for Life After School and the Workplace
  • Key Considerations and Concerns for Teens with ASD Presentation
  • SAP: Autism at WorkCollege Panel Night 
  • Autism and Employment Webinars with Barbara Bissonnette: Networking & Interviewing
  • Emotional Regulation
  • ASCEND Enews archive

If you would like to join ASCEND and gain access, please click here.


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.