May 2019






ASCEND's Upcoming Events 

Key Considerations and Concerns for Teens with ASD

ASCEND Group, in coordination with Dr. Brittany Lyman, PsyD, and Reggie Candio, NCSP, PsyD of Autism Spectrum Diagnostics and Consulting, will discuss how being a teenager in today's world is challenging. This is even more pertinent for teens diagnosed with ASD. This presentation will cover topics that we as clinicians see as problematic for our teen clients at our autism specialty practice. Some of the topics that will be discussed include: understanding and accepting one's diagnosis, combating anxiety, depression, and social isolation, the importance of self-advocacy, navigating social media and technology, and dating and sexuality.

Monday, May 13, 2019, 7:00 - 8:30 PM at Plymouth Meeting Community Center 2910 Jolly Rd, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462

Cost: Free for ASCEND members (code will be emailed)

$10 per person for non-members 

Join and go: become a Family Member of ASCEND for only $45 and take advantage of free and discounted events through the rest of this year! 

ABOUT OUR PRESENTERS: Dr. Brittany Lyman, PsyD, and Reggie Candio, NCSP, PsyD, are on the staff of Autism Spectrum Diagnostics and Consulting in Doylestown, PA. 

Dr. Brittany Lyman, PsyD, is a licensed clinical psychologist who provides evaluation, therapy, and consultation services to individuals impacted by autism spectrum disorder (ASD). She conducts comprehensive diagnostic, psychoeducational, and neuropsychological evaluations of children, adolescents, and young adults assessing a variety of learning differences, attention and executive functioning, and/or the impact of psychological, behavioral, and/or emotional conditions on the individual. Dr. Lyman also provides individual and group therapy services to individuals across the life span. In line with the philosophy of the practice, she takes a strength-based approach to both evaluation and treatment and strives to create a relationship with the individual and family that includes trust, respect, and acceptance. 

Reggie Candio, MS, Ed.S., NCSP, is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist and educational consultant who also holds credentialing in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. He is a doctoral candidate at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, with training and expertise in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, social skills instruction as well as psychoeducational, clinical, neuropsychological and vocational assessment. Aside from his work as a clinical and educational practitioner, Reggie has served as a developer and director of treatment programs for supporting the unique social, adaptive and transition needs of adolescents and young adults on the autism spectrum.


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



*Free ASCEND Game MeetUp for Tweens & Teens

10-17 years old
Social Enrichment Center, 542 Wesley Rd., Springfield, PA 19064
When: Sunday, May 26 from 2-4 PM
This event is for kids age 10 to 17, and we will have Legos, board games, WII video games, Nintendo DS and other video games, foosball and air hockey. We encourage participants to bring their favorite games to share and for parents to stay and socialize. Light refreshments will be available.
How to find us: 
The Social Enrichment Center is located at Hancock Methodist Church in Springfield. Entrance has green doors.
*Free event but RSVP required via  (free) and SEARCH for ASCENDGroup Event.


ASCEND Professional Summer Camps

The Pathway School Extended Year Program (ESY)

We are ready for
Exciting activities
Summer fun


The six week summer program includes academic experiences and club opportunities for students in areas such as technology culinary arts, creative arts (drama, visual arts, and music), adventure opportunities sports, science and job readiness opportunities to name a few. Students are sure to find many things they enjoy as they participate in various clubs. Modules are tailored to ability level of students and activities will allow participants to gains skills not just in the activity, but in problem solving, teambuilding, critical thinking and social skills.

For more information:
Diana Phifer
610-277-0660 ext 289
[email protected]
162 Egypt Road Jeffersonville, Pa.

July 1 through August 9
8:45 AM - 2:45 PM


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.


ASCEND Professional Events


Third Annual Children with Complex Challenges Conference

Join us at the Quaker School of Horsham for The Power of Mindsets: Nurturing Motivation, Hope and Resilience in Children with Special Needs. Featuring Dr. Robert Brooks

Free and open to the public but registration required. 

Friday, May 10 from 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM
The Quaker School at Horsham, 250 Meetinghouse Ln., Horsham, PA 19044

Register now.



Bryn Mawr Family Education Support Group plus a Peer Support Group

Kaleidoscope is excited to welcome Michele A. Leahy, MS, founder and CEO of M. Leahy & Associates to discuss Disability Life Planning. If you have questions about applying for government benefits including SSI/SSDI and waivers, workplace incentives, adult supports, or disability rights, this is the workshop for you.

Bring your child (18 and over) to a simultaneous social skills peer support group. Refreshments served.

Free and open to the community! Family Support Group is free however there is a $5 fee for the social skills support group if you are not receiving waiver services from Kaleidoscope. Refreshments and Coffee Served.

Tuesday, May 28 from 6:30 - 8:00 PM
Bethel AME Church, 50 S. Merion Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
(parking in the front and rear)

RSVP: Pam Frebowitz at [email protected] or call 215-681-0172.


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.

Montgomery County Community College, Bridging to the Future Conference (must attend conference to attend workshop).
MCCC Health Sciences Center, Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422
Saturday, May 4 at 1:35 PM

Cheltenham School District, CBK Middle School, 300 Longfellow Rd., Wyncote, PA 19095
Co-presenting with Montco MH/IDD & others!
Monday, May 6 at 6:00 PM


YMCA of Bucks County, 2500 Lower State Rd., Doylestown PA 18901
Wednesday, May 15 at 7:00 PM


 Center for Autism Research Next Steps for Professionals

- A Workshop for Professionals, Parents/ Caregivers Supporting Children with ASD

This workshop is geared towards professionals who work with toddlers through elementary school-aged children who have recently been diagnosed with ASD. Parents/caregivers are also welcome to attend.

Topics will include an overview of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), how diagnoses are made, available therapies and treatments, tips and resources for supporting families living with ASD and information about some of the current research related to ASD.

Wednesday, May 29 from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Roberts Center for Pediatric Research
1st floor conference center, Room 1-120B, 
2716 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19146

Contact: [email protected]


Professional Member Ongoing Groups:


Registration Open for Adolescent Groups Developing Social and Emotional Coping Skills

Center City, Plymouth Meeting, Paoli, and Haverford, PA - Enrollment is now open for social-coping skills groups designed especially for the social developmental needs of teens between the ages of 12-18. Girls-only and boys-only middle school and high school groups are available. Mike Fogel's Art of Friendship Social-Coping® Curriculum (also used at Camp Pegasus) launches participants on a "Reputation Project" with perspective-taking and the hidden rules of socialization at its core. The open ended group format helps participants develop and practice age appropriate conversation and hanging-out skills, flexibility and problem solving, navigate unstructured situations, and cyber-etiquette and social media safety. Coping skills for frustration tolerance, anger management, impulse-control, stress, and anxiety are promoted through education of CBT principles, as well. Groups are held at four area locations.


The Art of Friendship offers teen a community extension of its therapy groups in "Connections Social Club for Teens". Art of Friendship group clients are eligible to participate in a 3-hour community activity one weekend per month. "Connections" was created to decrease clients' isolation, build participants' friendship network, deliver age appropriate fun, AND facilitate generalization of social skills. Information about the Art of Friendship Social-Coping Program® and Connections can be found on the web, at If you have any questions or want to enroll your teen, please contact Debbie DeBenedictis, at [email protected].



New Social Groups Forming

Fick Educational Services has started forming Social Skills groups with new Saturday groups for ages 5-18 available! 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. Each week the class plan is made with the individual students in mind. Skills worked on include coping strategies, verbal presenation skills, self-regulation, and more. 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. 


 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
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!


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

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.

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

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

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.

New ASCEND Board Members

Please join us in welcoming our newest board members: Susan Peterman, Terry Peura and Frank Buttaro. To read their bios, please click here. 



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. 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.


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 Survey
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)
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. 


Local ASD News & Events

The Community Autism Peer Specialist (CAPS) training program is now recruiting individuals with autism who are interested in using their lived experience to support others.
Community Autism Peer Specialist (CAPS) Program CAPS pairs individuals with autism who have completed a peer support training program with other individuals with autism to achieve personal wellness and community integration goals. Activities are chosen by the participant to build employment and/or post-secondary education and leadership skills, to live independently, care for their own health, navigate interpersonal relationships, use public transportation, engage in the community, and explore other areas of growth. 

For more information about the CAPS training opportunity and position requirements please go to: 

Eden II Programs offers its Free Wednesday Webinar Series
May 1 at 12 PM
Understanding Your Child's IEP:
Getting the Services Your Child Needs
May 15 at 12 PM
Useful Tools for Managing Challenging Behaviors 

May 29 at 12 PM
Safety in the Community
Travel and Recreation Programs 

Sprout is dedicated to helping individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities grow through challenging and safe travel experiences and social activities.

Two Families First Sessions:
Families First's Annual Transitions Brunch! Panel presentation from Infant Toddler Early Intervention into Preschool Early Intervention and into Kindergarten. Learn the procedures, what to expect and how to make the transitions smooth for your child and family.

Elwyn SEEDS, 4025 Chestnut Street, 2nd floor, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Thursday, May 9 from 10:00 AM - 2:30 PM

2) Understanding Evaluations and Reevaluations

Families First - Understanding Evaluations and Reevaluations, a Family's Guide. Did you know your child's evaluation is even more important than their IEP or IFSP!
Thursday, May 16 from 5:30 - 8:30 PM

Both sessions:
  • Prizes and refreshments
  • Childcare reimbursement for qualified participants. 
  • Both sessions  simultaneously conducted in English, Spanish and Mandarin. Indicate your chosen language when registering. (Must register for Spanish or Mandarin at least 3 days before session date.)
  • To request a session in another language contact us: 
    TEL:  215-204-1772
    [email protected]


Free Family Fun Day and Resource Fair

Philadelphia Families with children ages 0-5 who are receiving any Early Intervention are invited to a FREE Family FUN Day! Sponsored by the Philadelphia Interagency Council. Held at Concillio, 141 East Hunting Park Avenue from 10 AM - 2 PM on Saturday, May 4.

Caregiver Support Group: Sleep Issues

SPIN Caregivers Support Group will have a training on Sleeping Issues on Monday, May 13 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Held at We Rock the Spectrum, 12357 Academy Road. FREE; childcare available. Please see flyer and register in advance.


Philadelphia Mental Health Center's Summer Camp at the ASAP (After School Autism Program)

We offer an interactive, educational and exciting group therapeutic program for children and teens ages 5 - 20 who are on the ASD/Asperger's Spectrum.

Our Summer program starts June 5 and meets M-F, 9 AM- 3 PM (ages 5-12) and 4 - 8 PM (ages 13-20). We also have Saturday programming 8 AM - 2 PM (ages 5-12) and 8 - 11 AM (ages 13-20). 

Summer Camp at ASAP is a clinical intervention and is covered by Medical Assistance. Participants must have Medicare, for which all participants with ASD are eligible. Transportation is provided.

To learn more information and enroll your child please contact LaTonya Grant, MS, Director of Autism Services, Philadelphia Mental Health Center, 267-969-7961, ext. 301 or [email protected].

ELWYN Professional Spring Trainings

FREE Trainings for professionals including Autism, Sexual Abuse, Social Skills, Feeding Issues, Working with children who have experience Trauma, Understanding Executive Functioning and Navigating Family Court and Foster Care on behalf of children. All trainings are held at CBH, sponsored by Elwyn. Click the ELWYN Professional Spring Trainings heading above to view the flyer; spots are still available, PQAS and Act 48 credit available. 


Funding Your Assistive Technology: A Guide to Funding Resources in PA

One of the leading obstacles for obtaining assistive technology (AT) is finding the money to pay for it. This guide has been compiled by Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF) in an effort to provide Pennsylvanians with disabilities, older Pennsylvanians, and their families help in navigating the complex web of funding options for AT devices and services.

PATTAN offers free guides/publications available for download

At PaTTAN, our goal is to provide educators with a breadth of publications that are grounded in proven best practices and a deep research base, reflecting a commitment to school improvement. PaTTAN offers publications on a variety of topics, all focused on improving educational results for students with and without disabilities.

Whether you are just starting out in the field of education, or you want to improve upon the work you and your team are already doing, let PaTTAN support you with the expertise of our educational consultants. Pennsylvania educators, school administrators, and families can view, download, and order PaTTAN publications mailed to their school or home.

In the Media


Dell's Hiring Program Aims to Create Opportunities for Adults with Autism
By Nicole Cobler for

After a successful pilot in Massachusetts, Dell Technologies is expanding its autism hiring program to Central Texas.

The Round Rock-based tech giant, which launched the program last April, offers two weeks of training ahead of a 12-week summer internship for adults with autism spectrum disorder. In some cases, those internships turn into a full-time job, according to Lou Candiello, Dell's military and disability recruiting program lead.


Affordable summer camp is a lifesaver for city's working parents
By Marcella Lipski for

As we approach the end of the school year, you can feel the excitement in the warm spring air. While children across the city eagerly anticipate summer break, many working parents are experiencing the opposite feeling - dread.

A few years ago, I too had this uneasy feeling about school ending. For me, in addition to childcare, I also had to make sure my newly diagnosed autistic child had opportunities for social interaction over the summer months. During the school year, he was enrolled in the tot time program at the Bridesburg Recreation Center. Fortunately for my family, I found that the Bridesburg center offered summer camp programs for children from ages 2 to 12.


Hooked on phonics? Not in this school district, and parents say the result is kids can't read.

When Kate Mayer moved to the Philadelphia suburbs from Chicago nearly four years ago, she chose to live in one of the state's best school districts, Tredyffrin/Easttown, so that her two children with dyslexia would get the help they needed.

But she was surprised to discover that children who struggled to read did not get much time for special instruction. Nor was she happy with how reading was taught.


At Sea World's Waterpark,an Autism-Friendly Approach Takes Root
By Gabrielle Russon, Orlando Sentinel/TNS 

ORLANDO, Fla. - Past the colorful playground where children splash at Aquatica Orlando, a new quiet room tries to mute the laughter and the music from the loudspeaker when everything becomes too overwhelming.

A few feet away, one of several expanded map signs breaks down the rides, rating them by the five senses, to give parents a warning if a ride may not be the right fit for their child.


Childhood Anxiety Treatment May Best Be Targeted at Parents, Study Finds
By Rita Giordano for

At a time when childhood and adolescent anxiety has reached epidemic proportions, Yale researchers have come up with a novel way to help nervous youngsters: treat their parents.


Could the fallout from the admissions scandal hurt kids with disabilities? 
By Adrienne Wichard-Edds for washingtonpost

Reaction to Tuesday's indictment of 50 people in an alleged college admissions scam, including 33 parents who allegedly used their wealth to get their children into elite universities, was swift and fierce. Critics noted that the story reeks of privilege, overparenting and a hypercompetitive academic culture. One aspect of the news particularly riled disability-rights advocates and parents of children with special needs: One of the ways these parents allegedly gamed the system to benefit their children involved faking learning disabilities to get accommodations on standardized college admissions tests.


What Autism Acceptance Looks Like in my Life
By Molly D. Dann-Pipinias for

April is Autism Awareness Month. People will be dusting off the puzzle piece ribbons and holding fundraisers. Awareness is a great thing. But it's not acceptance. Awareness is like putting a bandage on a severe wound. It's a nice thought, but what good does it do? It can't fix the issue. Acceptance can. There is nothing most people want more in the world than to be accepted, and that also holds true for people on the spectrum.


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.