PALS Newsletter - Spring 2015 (Volume 1)
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Imagine…In Support of Autism “All You Need Is Love”
On Saturday May 2nd, we felt all of your love at the 8th annual gala fundraiser for PALS Autism Society. Thanks to this year’s sponsors, the Sutton Place Hotel, Wesco Industries, Wesbild, Ritchie Bros Auctioneers, Grosvenor, Houweling's Tomatoes, and MacDonald Tuskey, the society was able to raise funds, increase autism awareness, and show our donors and supporters how much their dedication is appreciated at the school and adult program.

Her majesty Queen Elizabeth made a special trip across the pond, with guards and beefeater in tow, to greet our over 300 guests as they entered the regally transformed Vancouver Convention Centre. Guests enjoyed the big red phone box turned photo booth while sipping on gin and tonic cocktails and perusing the silent auction items. They sat down to dinner as cover band, the Day Trippers, played a few songs by 4 lads you may have heard of before, the Beatles? The surprises continued as auctioneer, Fred Lee, was knighted by her royal majesty and Andrea Kasunic, Head of School, and Karin Terado, Head of Adult Program, were treated to an intimate sonnet delivered by none other than Bard on the Beach’s very own Christopher Gaze!
Keeping with the new tradition of honouring an individual, corporation or organization that has demonstrated a high level of support to the society, this year the honour went to the Canucks for Kids Fund who has provided the school with countless resources from the very beginning, such as bursary support for low-income families, our great playground, and numerous iPads.
After a delicious meal, a voracious Fred Lee worked hard to run a very successful live auction and fund-a-therapy and the Famous Players band made sure the dance floor was packed until the lights came on!
This year, thanks to the generous support of our sponsors, guests and other donors, the gala succeeded in raising over $230,000. This money will allow our staff to confidently continue providing the highest quality of service to the kids in our school program and the young adults in our adult program.
Although the theme of the night was ‘all you need is love’, not just any love will do – a special thanks to the executive gala committee and many gala volunteers whom without your love, the evening would not have been what it was! 

-By Andrea Kasunic
Click to View Gala 2015 Photos
Jeremy James Cook 
I have some very sad news to share with you.  On Saturday, May 30, 2015, Jeremy James Cook passed away in Vancouver, from natural causes.    Many of you will know his mom and dad, Cynthia and Phil Cook and his sister Charlotte and our hearts go out to them at this very difficult and terribly sad time.  I hope that they are comforted by the many great memories they have of Jeremy and by the knowledge that he was a special young man to those who knew him and cared about him too, his friends, peers, co-workers and teachers. 
Many of you will remember Jeremy as the first student we enrolled in the adult program.  He was the perfect person to help us trail blaze the path for the adult program and we couldn’t have found a more supportive family to help us along the way.  Their trust and constant good will were so important to all of us and Jeremy was a big part of the reason we continue today.  
We learned a lot of things from Jeremy and some of what we teach today is rooted in early lessons with him.  He was an articulate bright light and a gentle soul whose sense of humour and intelligence were appreciated by his teachers and friends alike.  He loved to read and talk and ask ‘why’ questions.  He sang songs from his heart, and he especially loved Green Day’s “Time of Your Life” and Coldplay’s, “When I Ruled the World” which he sang for his friends and the staff on his last day in the program.   He loved drama and acting and learning and yoga and could be counted on to keep things interesting and the staff on their toes.  He loved to eat and I can well remember that one of his first days in the program was devoted to convincing his support worker and myself that it was time for a party and that, of course, there should be food and that spaghetti would make a good choice…. Spaghetti and Dairy Queen Blizzards, his signature dishes, always bring thoughts of Jeremy to mind.
In closing, I’ll leave you with Jeremy’s own words:  “…carry on, persevere, for in some ways I shall still be here, whether or not I am far or near, for all time”.

-By Karin Terado
Introducing Samantha Ng 
With much excitement and honor, I’d like to introduce myself as the new summer intern at PALS Adult Program. My name is Samantha Ng, and I am a fourth-year student at the Sauder School of Business (UBC). For the past two months, I have had the pleasure of working with the welcoming students and staff at the program. It has been an eye-opening experience: I have gotten to know each of the students and become invested in their employment development.

My objective is to secure greater work and volunteer placements for our students. To do this, I am currently working on a manual that will teach the staff about job coaching and job development. With this manual, the students will be able to enjoy the personal and social fulfillment of the employment experience. I look forward to introducing the finished project at the end of August!
Expressive Arts Therapy Program
The arts are an essential form of communication, indispensable to inquiry and expression. Expressive Arts Therapy is about using art materials, movement, sound, poetry, writing or instruments to express what we cannot say with words. From an early age, children draw, paint, build, play, and model in order to interact with their environment and create arts that express their understanding of the world. Expressive Arts Therapy Program builds on these experiences, providing opportunities for all students to perceive, respond to, and create arts, and to communicate through them. Through these processes, students become aware of the ideas and emotions expressed in arts and release stuck emotions as well as feel joyful and relaxed. It builds self esteem and self confidence which they will access for the rest of their life. 

- By Ellen Yang
Getting a Needle –How PALS Helped Prepare a Student for the Scary Situation!
After an unsettling experience in the emergency room while trying to get an x-ray, grade 8 student Casey Maltman, was rightfully anxious about having to receive four shots from the public health office. This prompted the staff at PALS to assist Casey in facing the anxiety producing situation by teaching her some useful calming strategies to use before, during, and after the vaccinations. Strategies such as stretching like a cat, moving your body as if you were on a swing, and pretending to squeeze a lemon all helped her to practice the sensation of tensing muscles and then relaxing them. Other strategies Casey was taught to use during the shots were to count aloud or even blow on a pinwheel as a reminder to breathe. To further assist Casey, the staff at PALS contrived scenarios in which she pretended to get her shots and they had her follow along with a visual schedule so she would know what was coming up next –no surprises here! After all of Casey’s hard work we are very proud to announce that she was extremely successful at receiving her shots, even calling herself a hero afterwards, and we definitely think that deserved a big giant ice-cream cone! See what Casey’s mom had to say about her big day. 
“Casey did fabulous at the public health office! She used the strategies you prepped her for! She counted along with the nurses and they were able to give her 4 separate shots! …Thank you so much for helping to prepare her for this, she had much anxiety around it and was so proud of herself for not being afraid in the end. Woo Hoo!!” – Cindy Maltman
If your child is faced with a similar situation, you may find the “Blood Draw Toolkit” from Autism Speaks and the Autism Treatment Network to be helpful. There is a guide for parents which contains the strategies described above as well as some great visuals, and there is also a guide for practitioners to read in advance so they can better support your child through the process:

-By Rebecca Tayler
Professional Development at the 7th Annual BC Association for Behaviour Analysis Conference
This year marked the 7th annual BC-ABA conference, a forum for professionas in the field of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) to share ideas, discuss current research, and promote mutual growth and development. Families of individuals with autism are also encouraged to attend and learn what is happening throughout the province. Ten members of the PALS staff team were able to attend on a bursary provided by the school program and they reported finding it both illuminating and inspiring. Head of School, Andrea Kasunic, asked the staff attendees to share their most valued learning points from the conference. Below is an abbreviated version of several interesting takeaway points our staff had to share. For anyone who would like to learn more about these topics, or about ABA in general, please feel free to contact Andrea via email  For anyone interested in becoming a member of BC-ABA, please visit
  1. Older learners are not unteachable –deficits in life skills may come as a result of lack of communication but they are still capable of developing bowel and bladder continence using the same effective teaching methods a behaviour analyst would use with a younger child. The principles of reinforcement lead to success, regardless of age and past learning history. (Kathryn De Lisser –When Challenging Behaviours Override Basics)
  2. We can teach sex education with the same tools we use for teaching other skills (e.g. task analysis, chaining, social story). For example, teaching learners to sort pictures of locations into public and private places, and putting red "STOP" and green "GO" labels on the picture of a person to help identify appropriate touching areas. Excellent materials related to the topic can be found at Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. (Justine Banigan & Richard Stock - Applied Behaviour Analysis to Enhance Sexual Education: A Literature Review).
  3. 75% of siblings of children with autism find themselves with careers in the helping fields (i.e., nursing, social work, caretakers) compared to 20% in the general population. (Dr. Mary Jane Weiss -Siblings).
  4. With the evolution of technology and increased use of social media (e.g., Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter) as a means of communication, it is important to contain all aspects of confidentiality with regards to the clients we work with. Even venting about a challenging day at work without any descriptions of a client can be a breach of confidentiality. As the saying goes that "someone is always nearby listening," similarly, "someone is always nearby surfing the net!" (Mary Jane Weiss - Following the Code).
  5. The iPad can be helpful in developing independent leisure skills for learners with autism as it has become a conditioned reinforcer for many; meaning, it evokes less problem behaviour in the individual using it. A number of apps are recommended that help make visual schedules, such as Choiceworks by Bee Visual LLC, Go Talk Now by Attainment Company, First Then Visual Schedule by Good Carma. (Christine Eadon & Sharon Baxter - Using the iPad to Increase Independence with Learners with Autism).
- By Jesse Weyman
Tribute to John Ames
In April, PALS Autism Society was deeply saddened to learn of the sudden passing of one of our loyal donors and friends. John Christopher Ames was an enthusiastic supporter of PALS through contributions both to the Society as well as the Gala.  John was the third generation CEO of Ames Tile & Stone and founder of the Ames Family Foundation.  He was passionate about supporting at risk youth and in addition to his generous contributions to PALS, he also supported the Boys and Girls Club, and the Ride to Conquer Cancer among many other charitable activities. 

He will be deeply missed by all whose lives he touched and we wish to extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and colleaugues.
PALS would like to take this opportunity to thank the many people and organizations who generously donated to the school and adult program in March, April, May and June; Bob and Katsi Abe,  Hamidreza Ahmadian and Maryam Amiri, Kaz and Marion Arai, Burnaby Firefighters Charitable Society, Pat Chan, Teri and David Christopher, The Diamond Foundation, Jennifer Fong, FS Financial Strategies, Midori Hamamoto, Jean Hori, Takeo and Midori Katayama, Amanda Goodman Lee and Jeff Lee, Anna and Emilia Martin, Methanex Corporation, Mas and Fumi Nakade, Jean Sano, Barbara Shishido, Margaret Shishido, Danny Stefan, Vincent Tong, West Point Grey Academy Grade 5 Class, Jean Wong, Wolrige Foundation, Nobby and Janet Yamamoto and Steve and Dorothy Yamamoto . This support allows us to continue delivering exceptional academic, behavioural, and life skills programming to students and young adults with autism spectrum disorders.
School Program

Early Summer Break - School Closed
June 29th - July 3rd

Summer Term - School Re -Opens
Monday, July 6th
Adult Program

Canada Day - Program Closed
July 1st

Copyright © 2015 PALS Autism Society, All rights reserved.

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