Follow us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Visit us at PALS Autism School
PALS  Newsletter - January/ February 2015
View this email in your browser
8th Annual Imagine... Gala
By Andrea Kasunic
Please help us raise funds by being a valued sponsor, donor or guest at the 8th Annual Imagine...Gala on Saturday May 2nd at the Vancouver Convention Centre. We look forward to welcoming over 300 guests to what promises to be the most royal affair of the year; an evening hosted by Nat and Drew of QM/FM including posh cocktails and appetizers, a silent acution, luxury raffle and fine dinining fit for the king and queen!  Following dinner, renowned auctioneers Richie Bros., and Vancouver's busiest Man about Town, Fred Lee, will help PALS Autism School and Adult Program by running the bidding on our coveted live auction packages.  The music of Famous Players band will have you singing “All You Need is Love” all night long in the Summit Ballroom –be sure to bring your dancing shoes!
This year, we look forward to honouring the Canucks for Kids Fund, an organization that has continuously demonstrated unwavering support to PALS since our doors first opened in 2007.
If you haven’t received your invitation in the mail, please visit our website to purchase your tickets or to make a donation: and please send your RSVP early as the event has been known to sell out! For more information on attending the gala or donating silent and live auction items, please email
Gala Volunteers In Action!
Thanks to our team of  dedicated volunteers for assisting with the assembly and stuffing of the invitations. Watch for them in your mail!
PALS would like to take this opportunity to thank the many people and organizations who generously donated to the school and adult program in January and February; Bob and Katsi Abe, Ames Family Foundation, Army, Navy and Air Force Unit 100, Els For Autism - Canada, CORIX - Golf for Kids, The Hamber Foundation, David Jang, Caroline Kriekenbeek, Terry Sarna, Timothy Sarna, Arlene Smith, Variety - The Children's Charity, Stephanie Williams, Jimmy Wong, and Missy Yano. This support allows us to continue delivering exceptional academic, behavioural, and life skills programming to students and young adults with autism spectrum disorders.
Head of Adult Program
-Karin Terado
Hello Everyone,

It's been an active and exciting return for staff and students alike after the Christmas break. All of us are happy to be getting back into the swing of things as we turn our attention to spring activities, such as our new work training opportunity at St. Paul's Hospital (congratulations Bethany on successfully completing your Library Cart orientation!), our celebration of Shanti's Curries 1st Year Anniversary (this fabulous employer will be featured in our next newsletter so stay tuned for our new feature Spotlight on ___________), our next Pamper Day extravaganza (March 17th, many thanks to the Blanche Macdonald Centre and Kris and her wonderful team of stylists at Dreadquarters), our PALS AP Achievement Awards, the premiering of our One Day In The Life of PALS Adult Program (thank you Ryan and Nicky for the many hours of volunteer work you did bringing this long-planned for video, to completion), embarking on our new venture with BC Guide Dogs/Autism Dogs and actively working on enhancing our work training program with our job coach initiative, a collaborative effort with UBC's Sauder School of Business and the Y.P. Heung Foundation.  In the months ahead, I will be sure to include articles about these activities and projects for your enjoyment and to keep you up to date with all of the exciting things that are happening in the adult program. Enjoy the sunshine and those first tantalizing glimmers of spring turning to summer!

Music in the Adult Program
-By Afton Albac
Music class at PALS Adult Program is a welcoming, lively, and highly interactive class. Music connects all of us together and gives us all a chance to express ourselves. Currently in music, we are working on using our voices to sing together in harmony. To do this, we have been learning to sing the Solfege scale with corresponding hand signs. We are also playing lots of musical games that allow everyone to work together and interact. We have been learning about different musical terms such as beat and tempo, and how to listen for them in the music that we hear and create. Music class would also not be complete without singing along to everyone’s favorite songs! We are all very excited to be starting production on our spring musical Annie. We have all worked together on re-creating the story and music to tell the tale of all PALS students getting jobs at Annie’s Mac and Cheese factory. Everyone is excited to be learning their favorite songs, such as ‘Tomorrow’ and ‘Hard Knock Life’! Music continues to be an inspirational class to teach and I look forward to the spring!                                                                                                                                                 
Work Experience at Watts Costumes                   
-By Monica Dudzik
Many of our students participate in work experience at various businesses and organizations. Work experience offers a chance for our students to develop their skills and show off their talents and for the employers to understand the value of our students’ work ethic and skills. Our students provide hundreds of hours of work in exchange for the opportunity to develop their skills and be ready for paid employment.

This past month marked a ‘first’ for us at the Adult Program as one of our students was paid for his work. Chris Ozawa has been assisting at Watts Costumes for past 3 months. Watts Costumes is a costume rental company and Chris’ job is to keep the merchandise neatly organized. Chris does a great job folding and stacking various items of odd shapes and sizes. One day, Rosemary, the owner of the store, insisted on paying Chris for his shift. This was unexpected for us but Rosemary stated the very obvious; ‘work is work and Chris is working. He deserves to be paid for his work as everyone else’.

Rosemary and staff at Watts are always welcoming and appreciative of Chris’ contribution to keeping the store merchandise organized. Monica, one of the staff, tells us that whenever she opens a drawer and sees a stack of neatly folded items she thinks of Chris and how helpful he is. Well done Chris!

Technology in the Classroom
By Jeremy Hall
PALS Autism School Program is very fortunate to have two Smart Boards to use with our students, one in each of the big classrooms.  These interactive screens mounted on the walls basically function as giant iPads which the teachers and students can control with their fingertips via the touch screen, resulting in very interactive group sessions.  They are used for a wide variety of lessons and activities for all classes, and we even use them to make staff training more valuable.  In my classroom, the Level 1 and 2 students use the Smart Board during Morning Meeting, Math, Reading, Social Thinking, and Music classes.  For students with little-to-no experience in group instruction, having the Smart Board at the front of the classroom makes it easier to stay engaged and focused on the teacher because of its ability to effectively reaches auditory, visual, and tactile learners.  What a powerful teaching tool!
PALS - Not Just a Place Where Kids Come to Learn!
By Jessie Weyman

Last year I moved from downtown Toronto to Vancouver to attend the Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) program at North Vancouver’s Capilano University. The program has exceeded my expectations and afforded me the opportunity to work directly with experienced professionals in the field of ABA. This fall I commenced my 500-hour intensive practicum placement at PALS Autism School, under the supervision of Andrea Kasunic. When I am finished my courses and the practicum, I will be eligible to write the exam for becoming a Board Certified Assistant Behaviour Analyst.
Immediately upon entering the facilities I gathered a strong sense of community. The staff, students, and families that comprise the PALS family are truly exceptional. Over the past 6 months I have witnessed students surpass learning goals and celebrate each other’s successes. I have had the good fortune to assist in program development, observe students in the learning environment, and participate in assessment procedures. Throughout these learning opportunities, the PALS values of providing an individualized, interactive, and inspired educational setting have remained omnipresent. I am truly grateful for this learning opportunity and feel privileged to have such a fantastic group of individuals guiding me in my practicum role.
How to Be the 100lb M&M (...or How To Build a Positive Working Relationship!)
By Ray Asuncion      
February 20th, 2015 marked another Professional Development Day at PALS Autism School, a time when the students stay home and the staff come to school to learn new concepts or review existing ones to be used in our everyday work. This month we learned how to become the 100lb M&M, a technique otherwise known as pairing. Pairing refers to the process of coupling yourself with reinforcement and it is integral to achieving instructional control (i.e., a positive working relationship). Subsequently, instructional control is vital to student learning and behaviour change. Pairing is always the first step an instructor goes through before working with any student, and in order to ensure pairing takes place, monthly preference assessments are conducted to identify the most current items and activities ranking high in preference for each student.
Though the concept of pairing is essentially dogma at PALS, we were introduced to Responsivity Training (McLaughlin & Carr, 2005) during the workshop, a concept in which being more responsive to communication attempts by the student are encouraged in order to decrease problem behaviours and increase social interaction.  Responsivity training hinges on three core concepts, “Acknowledge, Assess and Address,” hence the “3 – A Rule”.  Acknowledge refers to recognizing all communication attempts by the student, such as recognizing that he/she is laughing after the instructor makes a joke.  Assess is analyzing the function of the communication.  From the previous example, when the student laughs after hearing a joke, the instructor can ask “Do you like my joke?” in order to assess the function of the behaviour (i.e., laughing).  Finally, Address refers to identifying the needs or requests of the child whenever it’s feasible to do so.  So in our example, if the student says “yes” after the instructor asks if he/she likes the joke, then the instructor can tell another joke to bring out more laughter from the child.  Though the “3 – A rule” seems common sense in nature, it serves as a reminder for us to always be on the look-out for new ways to bring fun and happiness into our teaching sessions. That way, when it comes down to getting the hard stuff done, like learning a new math equation, or brushing teeth, we as the instructors will already have instructional control with the student, thus making it more likely that the student will engage in the correct responses and positive behaviour.
 McLaughlin D. M., & Carr, E. G. (2005). Quality of rapport as a setting event for problem behavior: assessment and intervention. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions7, 68-91.

Spring Break - School Closed
March 16 - 20

School Re-opens - Spring Term
March 23

Behaviour Analysis Workshop –
no afterschool care
Thursday, March 26 3:00-6:00 pm

Good Friday – School Closed
Friday, April 3

Easter Monday – School Closed
Monday, April 6

Behaviour Analysis Workshop –
no afterschool care
Thursday, April 30 3:00-6:00 pm

Good Friday - Closed
Friday, April 3

Easter Monday - Closed
Monday, April 6

Copyright © 2015 PALS Autism Society, All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences