PALS Autism Society Newsletter  |  Summer/Fall 2016
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In this edition:

School News Adult Program News
Other News 
PALS and the Ministry of Education -Special Education School Designation and Funding Announcement
-By Andrea Kasunic

Minister of Education, Mike Bernier, visited PALS again on October 4th –this time to make an important announcement! PALS is one of 15 schools to now be designated as a Special Education School and with this title comes an extra $2000 per qualifying student per year! This will surely make a great difference for the students at PALS. Parents enroll their children at our year-round school so they can receive a comprehensive education, targeting individual: academic, communication, behaviour, daily living, and social goals.
Did you know PALS needs to fundraise $15,000 per student per year in order to stay in operation, and that’s on top of the tuition payments required by families and existing Ministry of Education funding? The extra $2000 per student per year from the SES designation now helps ensure we are that much closer to our fundraising goal and that we don’t need to increase tuition rates for our families who are already stretched financially as a result of having a child with special needs.
Our donors can continue giving to us with the added confidence that their money is supporting an independent school that meets the strict criteria for SES designation.
Parents can continue taking comfort knowing their children have a place to learn, full-time, in small groups with staff to student ratios of 1:1, 2:3 and 1:4, both in the classroom and in the community.
Our highly trained staff can continue applying the science of Applied Behaviour Analysis in their teaching strategies and behavioural interventions, working closely with a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst, Speech and Language Pathologist and Occupational Therapist.
And most importantly, we can continue our daily communications with families, helping them to see their child’s progress at school steadily generalize over to home and family life.
We, as an independent school, are feeling very inspired for the future, knowing how much our government supports special education. We also extend a very special thank you to Peter Froese, Executive Director of the Federation of Independent School Associations BC, for all his work in helping to advocate for special education.

$20 Personal Earthquake Kits for Sale by PALS Work Skills Program

On October 20th, students took part in a province wide earthquake drill for The Great BC Shake Out. When they heard the rumbling on the school speakers, they practiced "Drop, cover, and hold on" by climbing under tables and counting out loud to help stay calm until the rumbling stopped. Then they counted to 60 to make sure there would be no aftershocks and it was safe to go to the designated meeting place. Everyone did great, but we'll keep practicing each month as it can be challenging to stay under the tables for that long!
Did you know PALS students 16 years and older are gaining work experience and raising money for their community outings by assembling and selling personal earthquake kits? $20 gets you everything you need to stay safe at your desk, in your car, or in your home in the event of a real earthquake - 1 water bottle, 1 food bar, 1 roll of duct tape, 1 whistle, 1 emergency blanket, 1 candle, and 1 matchbook. Kits also include directions for what to do in the event of a real earthquake, ideas for other personal items to add to your kit, and a list of uses for the duct tape! Anyone interested in placing an order should email –great for the office, your car, or at home!
Terry Fox Run
-By Gay Salvador

PALS Autism School once again joined the much anticipated Terry Fox Run along with other schools at the PNE on September 29, 2016. Students and staff alike eagerly participated and had a blast sweating it out running and walking for a great cause. A perfect day to commemorate Terry Fox’s admirable ideals by raising money through the Marathon of Hope which aims to bring awareness to cancer research.

Vancouver Coastal Health Immunization Schedules

Hello, my name is Stephanie Mortimer-Lamb and I work with Vancouver Coastal Health as a Public Health Nurse in the School Program.

If you have not already done so, we recommend providing PALS with a copy of your child’s Immunization Records.

Please also access for information about Immunization Schedules. Target grades for immunizing are: Kindergarten, grade 6 and grade 9.
If you have any questions or require further assistance, please contact me at:
Evergreen Community Health Centre                     
3425 Crowley Drive
Vancouver, BC
604-872-2511 (#3307)
Executive Functioning Skills in the Classroom
-By Rebecca Tayler

This year the Level 2 students in Rebecca's classroom are focusing on building executive functioning skills to increase their independence and self-regulation in the classroom. Executive functioning skills enable students to plan, organize, prioritize, focus, and stay on task. One aspect of classroom independence is transitioning in and out of the room as a group, in a calm orderly fashion. Students have been practicing lining up using feet visuals to indicate their place in line. Once students independently line up they are expected to show the teacher they are ready by looking forward, having a quiet mouth, and hands down at their sides. With only one month into the new school year, the Level 2s are learning this target quickly - showing how effective the visual prompt is for group transitions and their success in the classroom. Great job Level 2s!
Summer Fun at PALS
-By Yvonne Lam

With the colder weather encroaching, let’s take a moment to reflect back on the sunnier days of summer 2016! With year-round educational programming as one of the key features of PALS Autism School, it is essential for the students to maintain skills they learned throughout the year while having the same fun summer experiences as other kids their ages. Thanks to the generous support of the Diamond Foundation, we were able to provide a well-balanced summer program containing maintenance academics and a wide variety of play-based activities.

During July and August, students continued to receive group academic instruction and 1:1 intensive teaching in the mornings, but the focus was on reviewing previously mastered targets. PALS was able to increase the support of occupational therapist, Diane Gerrard, and she attended the school once per week, instead of biweekly, completing important biannual assessments of each student’s OT goals.

Evret Tucker, Music Therapist, returned to provide music therapy to the students each Monday afternoon with sessions consisting of exposure to stimulating, sensory, motivational and emotive musical experiences. Also on Monday afternoons, Classroom teacher, Rebecca, provided the students with an opportunity to show off their sports skills in the PALS Summer Olympics, where they focused on developing their knowledge and skills for badminton, field hockey, and soccer. In Yearbooking class, Head Educational Instructor, Ray, encouraged the students to engage in memory recall of the past year’s events by sorting and identifying various pictures of activities, fieldtrips, and special events on weekly scrap book pages. The final products were beautiful one-of-a-kind keepsakes for each student to hold on to, each signed by their peers.

On Tuesday afternoons, Behaviour Analyst, Yvonne, once again led the students on community outings to local shops such as Donald’s Market, Starbucks, Dollar Tree, and Church’s Chicken! Students practiced street safety skills and exercised making purchases, specifically, the ingredients necessary for Cooking Class. Afterwards, Classroom Teacher, Gay, helped the students make delicious and nutritious snacks such as fresh fruit-yogurt-granola parfaits, spinach-mango-strawberry-chia smoothies, fresh fruit skewered on pretzels with chocolate dip, mac-and-cheese with bacon, grilled ham-and-cheese sandwiches with tomato soup, pancakes and apple slices, and pepperoni and cheese pizzas! Mmm…
Each Wednesday, the students, staff, and volunteers boarded a big yellow bus and headed out for a full day of fun in the lower mainland. Field trips this year included: Southland Farms, the movie “The Secret Life of Pets”, bowling at The Zone, visiting the Space Centre, swimming at Kits Beach, riding the attractions at Playland, visiting the Vancouver Aquarium and Science World, and sliding down the slides at Splashdown for the last time before the attraction closed for good. The staff found it very rewarding to support the students in trying new things, especially during the visit to the Space Centre where for many students, it was their first visit to the Planetarium Star Theatre.

Ellen Yang, Art Therapist, returned to provide Art Therapy to the students each Thursday afternoon. Sessions provided the students with opportunities to express and communicate their emotions using various modalities such as drawing, painting, movement, sound, poetry, writing, or instruments through the themes of joy, light, beauty, giving, receiving, balancing, and self. Also on Thursdays, Head Educational Instructor, Kanako, provided opportunities for the students to get hands-on in science class, making predictions and carrying out experiments such as: volcano, lava lamp, tornado in a jar, Mentos geyser, and silly putty. Returning Drama Instructor, Veronica Bryan, worked with the students weekly on stage to produce an adaptation of “Grease” that was performed in front of a full-house at the end of the summer program!

Finally, it wouldn’t have been summer without swimming lessons at Templeton Pool, and every Friday PALS students were taught by certified swimming instructors how to float like starfish and jump off the diving board into the deep-end. The walk from the school to the pool, as well as the change rooms, gave the students many opportunities to generalize all of the life skills they work on year round!
Behaviour Tip
-By Yvonne Lam

Have you ever heard of the saying “It gets worse before it gets better”? Sometimes this is referred to as an extinction burst (i.e., a sudden increase in undesirable behaviour that has been identified for elimination). Sometimes this may happen when you are using Differential Reinforcement – a combination of two behavioural principles: Reinforcement and Extinction. Reinforcement is the process of increasing or strengthening a behaviour by providing a ‘reward’ (i.e., positive reinforcer) or removing a non-preferred aspect of the environment (i.e., negative reinforcer) immediately following the behavior. Extinction is the process of decreasing and/or eliminating a behaviour by no longer providing that ‘reward’ or by no longer removing the non-preferred item/activity.
Let’s apply differential reinforcement into the following situation: a boy begins to cry at the check-out lane because he wants a candy bar. Mom takes a candy bar from the shelf, puts it into the shopping cart, and the boy immediately stops crying. Mom has just unintentionally reinforced crying behaviour! Instead, let’s teach the boy to communicate what he wants in a more appropriate way by applying differential reinforcement. By using reinforcement, mom can increase her son’s use of words (i.e., “candy”) and by using extinction, mom can eliminate crying. Moving forward, each time mom reaches the checkout lane, she models for her son the word “candy’”. If he repeats after her and says “candy” mom would be reinforcing that request by immediately placing the candy bar into the shopping cart. Alternatively, if he cries, mom would be extinguishing crying by withholding the candy (i.e., she continues on with her shopping transaction, leaving the candy on the shelf). With practice he will learn, crying no longer gets candy but saying the word “candy” will!
The next few shopping trips might end with the boy “upping the ante” by crying louder and longer because he’s trying to figure out “Why isn’t crying working anymore?” This is the extinction burst! Imagine yourself entering a dark room, flicking the light switch but the light does not turn on. You might flick the switch a few more times before you stop and try something different. It’s always important to plan ahead and prepare for an exctinction burst when using extinction. In this scenario, it would be important for mom to ‘stand her ground’ and persevere past the extinction burst and not ‘break. Otherwise, if mom reaches her breaking point during the extinction burst, her son has just learned that he just needs to cry louder and longer and eventually he’ll get candy. Remember, things might get worse before they get better! Do you have any ideas for your son or daughter’s behaviour that you might like to differentially reinforce? If so, please book a monthly parent meeting to see if this approach might be the right fit!
Fall Program Update
-By Karin Terado

The Adult Program would like to welcome all of you to our 2016/2017 Fall term!  It’s an exciting time of the year with new students enrolling, new classes introduced and exciting new projects under way.
First off I’d like to warmly welcome two young adults, and their families, to the adult program.  It’s wonderful that we will have the opportunity to get to know Abbie T and Melissa K in the months to come and I look forward to these bright young women sharing their unique qualities and gifts with their peers and instructors!
In addition to our newest students, I’d like to welcome our latest employer, Bard on the Beach to PALS employment program.  I look forward to an exciting, productive and positive working relationship for many years to come!
Well the year has gotten off to a rousing start with the introduction of three new classes:  Get Ready/Do/Done which is a scheduling and planning class, Getting to Know Our Neighbourhood which is part of our community orientation program and lastly, our Cool Choice Class, which encourages appropriate choice making, social interaction and working together as a team.
In addition to the new classes, we are also hoping to host an exciting new collaboration with Bard In the Neighbourhood which will introduce Shakespeare and the wonders of expressing emotion and feelings through language, to the young adults in the program.  This will certainly brighten those gloomy days leading up to the Holiday season!
Another interesting project that we are working on this fall is our adult program ‘yearbook’.  Through the incredible generosity of an anonymous donor and friend of PALS, the adult program will publish its first edition in early 2017.  I’m sure that this gift will be greatly enjoyed by the families, students, friends and supporters of the program!
Teamwork is something that goes to the heart of the program and is evident in the many projects currently ‘on the go’.  One such project has been the weekly publication of our student newsletter.  This newsletter is sent primarily to family and family friends and describes, with humour and insight, the goings-on in the program as told from the students’ perspectives.  Special features include Nicole’s Melodies, Fraser’s Funnies, Sangeons’ Comics, PALS Spotlight on Work and assorted write-ups on specific discussion topics or classes. 
Another project, with more of a fundraising focus, will be the Christmas Cookies and Candles Sales.  This means that all of us will pitch in together to raise the money for a few events and excursions that are on the students’ wish list!  These larger projects require a lot of planning and work but they sure are a lot of fun and the students are so keen, they’ve already started to bake the cookies and pour the candles!  Here’s a look at some of the products.
To place your orders, please go to
In closing I’d like to share some staff news with you.   Nicky Waring, a long-time instructor in the adult program, resigned her position in August, 2016.  The staff and students will not only miss Nicky’s gifted teaching and creative approach to learning, but her steadfast commitment to each of them and to the mission of this program.  Nicky was instrumental in helping standardize our student assessment process and contributed significantly to the adult program curriculum which continues to benefit the students and the instructors.  She has decided to take a different path going forward, one which will include teaching, but will also leave her the time and energy to devote to her new daughter.  We wish Nicky, Martin and Izarra all the best going forward and are grateful for the positive impact they had on all of us here in the adult program.
At this time I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all of our donors, supporters, friends, families, volunteers and staff for your hard work and commitment to PALS - I wish all of you a happy and productive Fall!
Student Outings
-By Kristine R. Miñoza

PALS Adult Program goes on a number of field trips during the summer & Christmas seasons.  The primary objectives for these field trips is to allow the students to relax and have fun, expose them to different places and activities which broaden their views and interests, encourage camaraderie among peers, and take advantage of natural environment teaching. 
The students go to Science World where they watch scientific films and take part in experiments involving water, sound, motion and light.  Field trips to the Vancouver Aquarium enhance their senses and flexibility as they watch 4D films and admire different animals such dolphins, penguins, seals and stingrays in a very busy environment!  At Playland, they experience different emotions like curiosity, excitement, fear, amazement, joy, courage, surprise and satisfaction as they enjoy the rides and play the arcade games.   Kitsilano Beach Pool is another much loved venue for outings.  They love swimming, playing with their friends, hanging out and telling stories by the beach.  At Granville Island, the students have the chance to wonder around the specialty shops, crafts and food stores, and enjoy the colours and smells of the Marketplace!  Two recent additions to the summer outing repertoire are FlyOver Canada and the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre.  Both venues encourage the students to look beyond what they can see around them in their daily lives.
 The Holiday season is also a very special time of the year for us as we make our way to the Hyatt Regency Hotel to check out their awesome Gingerbread Lane and to the Sutton Place Hotel to admire the beautifully decorated Christmas trees.  They particularly love to look at the PALS Christmas tree to check out photos of themselves and their friends.  Our combined staff/student White Spot lunch rounds out our year and is paid for with the proceeds of the Christmas Bake Sale. 
If there is one thing all the field trips have in common though, it is that the students love hanging out with each other and socializing outside of the four corners of PALS.  These field trips help pave the way for friendships to bloom and thrive and seeing this happen is one of the best outcomes of these outings!
Spotlight on Helen Ng – our newest member of staff

I started with PALS Adult Program as a volunteer in fall of 2014. I came back to PALS as a full-time instructor after acquiring my advanced certificate on Applied Behavioural Analysis from Douglas College. Being part of PALS gives me a sense of gratification because our students are delightful to work with and the environment is full of promise and positivity.
PALS would like to take this opportunity to thank the many people and organizations who generously donated to the school and adult program between May - October 2016; Ana Asi, Burnaby Firefighters Charitable Society, Raymond Chow,  The Mary + Gordon Christopher Foundation, Philip Cook, Jodi Crawford, Andrea Czinkota, Helen Czinkota, Diamond Foundation, Iraj Feiz, Gordon and Sharon Grams, Cassandra Greer, Darcy Hibberd, Michael Hickman, Kam Ling Hung, Sahar Kanani, Mike Kardynal,  Leslie Kapusianyk, Alison Kovacs, Caroline Kriekenbeek, Russell Larden, Torben Lauridsen, Jeff Lee - United Way Campaign, Raymond Lee, Mike Marrandino, Particia Mauch, Bill and Vivian McDonald, Greg Miles, Gayle Moss, Mas and Fumi Nakade, Margriet Novak, Matt Novak, Al Pain, Koorosh Raffii, RBC Foundation, Osman Samad, Navid Sariolghalam, Sue Sayer, Bob Scott, Nick Segounis, Amir Sharif, Terry Sklavenitis, Randy Swant, Michael Tham, Harvey Twidale, Judy Vellar, Trevor Wilson, Jimmy Wong, Tracey Wood, Ian Young, Canucks for Kids Fund, GoodLife Kids Foundation, Team Telus Charitable Giving Program, The Sutton Place Hotel, The Wolrige Foundation. This support allows us to continue delivering exceptional academic, behavioural, and life skills programming to students and young adults with autism spectrum disorders.
The Sutton Place Hotel ‘Just Fore Fun’ Golf Tournament Fundraiser

This summer, PALS Autism Society benefited once again from the Sutton Place Hotel’s extreme generosity as the charity of choice for their ‘Just Fore Fun’ golf tournament. It was a beautiful day on the Furry Creek golf course and it didn’t matter if you played your personal best or personal worst, it was just important that you had fun! Each of the 19 holes had something exciting to offer players, from wine tasting to a Frisbee toss that got you closer to the flag – we think the mission was accomplished! Even more fun was had and more funds were raised at the dinner afterwards, thanks to emcee Marco Iannuzzi of the BC Lions and his ability to get the golfers to bid high on auction items and to contribute to “Fund a Therapy”. The students and staff were amazed when we were presented with a cheque for $20,500 as a result! Thank you so much Sutton Place Hotel!
Raise Money for PALS When You Buy Fresh Local and Organic Produce
You can help fundraise for PALS by ordering organic fruit and vegetables for your home or office through and they will donate 25% of your purchase to support our fundraiser. There are 8 boxes in the program, ranging from $20-44. Popular boxes are Seasonal Fruit, All Greens, and Best of BC. The contents of the boxes change slightly from week to week, to bring you the best of the season. If there is something in the box you don’t like, you can select one of the sub options. You can also order other groceries on the site that you want, but only the produce boxes listed on contribute 25% to PALS. Here’s how it works:

  1. Create an account for you or your office at There are no fees or contracts to join.
  2. Choose the organic produce boxes you want to order and add them to your cart. The boxes are listed on the SPUD Fundraising page under the Home tab (
  3. At checkout, enter the promo code FUNDRAISING and select PALS Autism School from the drop-down menu.
  4. Complete your order. Fresh, delicious organic produce will be delivered to your home or office, with 25% donated to PALS Autism School!
    Help us extend the fundraiser by sharing this information with all of your friends and family!.
For more information, you can contact the school, email or call SPUD at 604-215-7783 x250 is a Vancouver-based business that delivers local and organic groceries to homes and offices throughout the Lower Mainland from Pemberton to Hope! SPUD is certified ethical & sustainable as a B Corporation.
Raise Money for PALS When You Buy or Sell Real Estate

Looking to buy a home or sell your existing real estate? Please read the generous offer from PALS Supporter, Karim Kamrani, for a great way you can help give to PALS Autism Society. Thank you Karim!
“Being on the PALS facility & fundraising gala committees, and seeing first hand the hard work that is dedicated to further better the lives of the families and kids living with Autism, it is my pleasure to donate 25% of my commissions back to PALS for all client referrals looking to buy or sell real estate.”


Remembrance Day - School Closed
Friday, November 11th

Behaviour Analysis Workshop
(no afterschool care)
Thursday, November 24th

Winter Break - School Closed
December 19th - Jan 2nd

School Re-Opens - Winter Term
Tuesday, January 3rd

Remembrance Day - Program Closed
Friday, November 11th

Professional Day - Program Closed
Friday, November 18th

Winter Break - Program Closed
December 19th - Jan 2nd

Professional Day - Program Closed
Tuesday, January 3rd

Program Re-Opens
Wednesday, January 4th
Copyright © 2016 PALS Autism Society, All rights reserved.

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