November/December 2015
Volume 7 , Issue 9

In This Issue...

  1. Message from ASCEND President
  2. New Professional Members
  3. Professional Member News & Events
  4. Other ASD Events
  5. In the Media
  6. Things we Like


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ASCEND Group Inc.
610-449-6776 via email




Message from ASCEND's President

To all: Tis the season to be thankful and I’m thankful for all the ASCEND members I’ve met over the past year. 
Our members are committed to supporting
the variety of programming, educational and awareness raising efforts that we put forth throughout this year and years past.

While ASCEND’s mission hasn’t changed since its founding 14 years ago, the autism world has experienced a significant transformation. Back in 2001, autism was viewed through a very narrow lens and Asperger Syndrome was just coming out of the shadows. Since then, the idea of autism as a spectrum disorder is widely acknowledged along with the recognition that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to successfully supporting individuals with autism.

I wanted to let you know that the ASCEND board of directors is poised to reflect on these changes and what it means to our organization. In 2001, there was too little information available on autism. Today, it sometimes seems there is too much information, making it difficult to discern the helpful news from the unhelpful and sometimes harmful information that is distributed every day in lightning-quick fashion. This is just one of the topics on our January board meeting agenda.

By the way, I’m very thankful for our board members (all volunteers!) who are dedicated to carrying out ASCEND’s mission. Our board is purposefully comprised of a balance of individuals with autism, family members, and professionals in the field to allow ASCEND’s leadership to discuss and address the needs of the regional autism community from many perspectives.

Finally, if you haven’t joined or renewed your annual ASCEND membership, please consider doing so. You’ll not only be supporting ASCEND’s mission, but you’ll be able to take advantage of all the benefits of being a member, such as free or reduced admission to events and, for professionals, the opportunity to be featured in the enews and on our website.

Happy holidays to one and all!


Maleita Olson
ASCEND President 



New Professional Members

Anderson Center for Autism (ACA)
Contact: Tracy Schober at  845-889-9534 or  [email protected]
4885 Route 9, PO Box 367 Staatsburg, NY 12580

This center provides educational, residential, clinical and support services to children and adults on the autism spectrum and their families. ACA provides consultation services to schools, businesses and the broader community.

Continuum Behavioral Health 
Contact Nicole Matthews at 484-577-9928 or [email protected]
PO Box 8308, Radnor, PA 19087

This provider is committed to providing quality ABA services to help improve the lives of individuals and their families. The systematic method for assessment and intervention allows Continuum's staff to identify "why" an individual engages in maladaptive behaviors and develop the most successful strategies to teach new skills. With the use of behavior plans and consultation/training, parents and other professional are taught how to utilize ABA principles so an individual can be successful across environments and with those people in their life. This provider contracts with families, schools, and multiple funding sources, including Tricare. We are currently providing services in Southeastern Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Whitney Eriksen: UPenn, School of Nursing
Contact: [email protected]

Whitney is a Hillman Scholar in Nursing Innovation and Doctoral Candidate at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing. Her research addresses the onset and experience of puberty for girls with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families; she hopes move the conversation about the effects of puberty and changes in adolescence that are unique to girls with ASD, and identify areas where providers across healthcare and mental health arenas can better support girls and their families.

Center for Social and Executive Function Skills
Contact: Ryan Wexelblatt, LSW, Director, at 484-278-1088 or [email protected]
 114 Forrest Ave.Narberth, PA 19072

This provider offers Social Thinking skills development, executive function coaching and sexuality/relationship education to individuals who present with social learning challenges e.g. Asperger's and ASD).Wexelblatt, LSW, has completed the Social Thinking Clinical Training Program at Michelle Garcia Winner's CA based Social Thinking Center. Executive function coaching is modeled after the work of Sarah Ward, MS, CCC-SLP, and Kristen Jacobsen, MS, CCC-SLP, of Cognitive Connections in Lincoln, MA. Sexuality and relationship education utlizes the work of Dr. Isabelle Henault and focuses on safety and education from a social learning perspective. A "Guys Group is offered that focuses on self-care, human sexuality and relationship education group. (Separate groups for middle school and high school age boys).



Professional Member News & Events

Professional Member Social Groups,
Support Groups and Workshops


Professional Members' Research 



Professional Member Events:                                  





12/8 CAR Presents: Next Steps into Adulthood: Friendships

12/16 CAR presents: Next Steps Workshop for Professionals

12/18 Spectra: Drop and Shop: Leave the kids with us

1/19 2 Be Social Learning Center presents free event: Navigating and Negotiating the Social World : Bullying

1/30 Quaker School Speaker Series: Join Frankel & Kershenbaum as they discuss "Special Ed Law."

1/30 Valley Forge Educational Services (VFES): Special Kids Camp Expo

To Our ASEND Professional Members: Please be sure to submit listings for the enews by logging in to the ASCEND website and completing a "Submit Event" or "Submit Service" form. Please submit those events and services no later than the last day of the month prior to the next month’s enews.


 Other ASD News & Events


"Beyond 'Diversity': Supporting Education for All Through Inclusive Practices"
Fri, 12/11, 9am-12pm
FACTS Charter School,1023 Callowhill St, Phila, PA 19123
Cost: Free
RSVP by 12/9: [email protected] or [email protected] or 215-271-4286

Philadelphia Autism Network Workshop:Toilet Training for Children with Autism and other Disabilities
Wed, 12/9, 6-8pm
Elwyn Seedlings, 3300 Henry Ave, Phila, PA
More info: [email protected] or 215-460-7725
Cost: Free

BAS Survey on Transitioning from HS
Deadline for Response: 1/1/16
The Bureau of Autism Services (BAS) is conducting a preliminary survey to help inform the design of services for individuals with ASD who are transitioning out of high school, including those who may have had justice intersections or psychiatric hospitalizations. This survey is designed to be completed by individuals with ASD and their families and caregivers. BAS has received a large response from family members, and would also like to hear ideas directly from more individuals with ASD, of any age, including those that are older than transition-age.


In the Media

Young adults with autism learn dating skills
WFMZ (Allentown),  11/18/15
From the article: “Researchers at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior found that participants attending their 16-week program which taught social skills including tips on dating were able to better engage with their peers and even showed increased empathy and greater responsibility.”

I Can't Fake It Until I Make It—I'm Autistic
Huffington Post, 11/17/2015 
From the article: “I actually announced that I was diagnosed with autism on Facebook a year ago. It wasn't my style to covertly share something of this nature with a few intimate contacts behind closed doors. I had turned 41 and I wanted the world to know and feel sorry for me or take note of my achievements in spite of seemingly unfavorable odds and a turbulent professional and personal life history.”


Holiday tips for people with Autism
York Daily Record, 11/16/15
From the article: “Above all, remember not to let the expectations of others ruin your day. Do what you need to do to make it as comfortable as possible for you and your child. Parents know their children the best, so know and plan for how much noise and sensory input they can take.”


Seven-Year-Old Girl Shares Her Struggles with Autism In Heartwrenching Note to Mom
Redbook, 11/13/15
From the article: “After feeling overwhelmed by all the stories she was hearing about autism from the kids in her class, other parents, and on TV, 7-year-old Cadence crawled underneath her teacher's desk at school and wrote a touching letter to her mom, Angela, about her disorder.”


Autism cases in U.S. jump to 1 in 45: Who gets the diagnosis, in 8 simple charts
Washington Post, 11/13/15
From the article: “The number of autism cases in the United States appeared to jump dramatically in 2014 according to new estimates released Friday, but researchers said that changes in the format of the questionnaire likely affected the numbers.”


Rutgers University Has a Grand Plan to Help Adults with Autism Find Jobs, 11/9/15
From the article: “Americans with
disabilities have a major job problem. Unemployment among Americans with
disabilities has hovered in the double digits for all but two months since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started keeping track in June 2008… Last week, Rutgers University announced plans that take aim at that problem, with the help of a donation from former Viacom, CBS, and Sirius XM Radio CEO Mel Karmazin.”


Fascinating images reveal how people with autism see the world
Tech Insider, 10/29/15
From the article: “People with
autism see the world differently.
They typically don't look at faces as closely; they can be more easily overwhelmed by too many stimuli; and they may fixate intensely on one thing at a time. Previous research found these and other differences, but a new study helps you see the world how many people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) might.”



Things We Like

The Spectraland Saga
Brian Tashima, a resident of Vancouver, WA, is
an author, singer, songwriter, and dad to a
young son with autism. Ever an overachiever, when Brian’s son asked him to write a book, he conceptualized a series for kids with autism with a primary goal of providing them with a literary hero that they can call their own, that gives them a sense of empowerment and self-esteem. “I'm not trying to minimize the challenges of being on the spectrum. I'm trying to emphasize the positives,” says Brian. Kirkus Indie calls this book, "Inspiring for the younger set and a kindred voice for those with autism spectrum disorders.”
Click here to read an interview with Brian in the Oregonian.


“Arthur” Explains Asperger's In Just 1 Minute
From the Huffington Post: “The children's television series, centered on an endearing
eight-year-old aardvark and his family and friends, seems to have a particularly strong grasp on the disorder.” Check out the video!


Irish Boy’s Gift List
This holiday gift list is a hoot! Rory Smith, an Irish boy with autism, is attempting to use the power of persuasion to get him mom to purchase Grand Theft Auto. He also wants a fez and makes a request to Santa to send his best friend a Minecraft toy.



ASCEND Group Inc. P.O. Box 2097
Media, PA 19063
[email protected]