PALS Autism Society Newsletter  |  Spring 2016
View this email in your browser
In this edition:
Karma – An Evening of Good Vibes at PALS Autism Society’s 9th Annual Imagine… Gala
On Saturday April 9th, karma definitely worked in our favour as the society celebrated its most successful gala fundraiser to date – $280,000 net was raised! Over 340 guests gathered at the Vancouver Convention Centre and kicked off the night with a collective ‘O-M’; however, everything that came after was anything but peaceful!

Guests zealously checked their bids on the luxury silent auction items and bought raffle tickets hoping to fulfill their wanderlust with a West Jet trip. The energy from emcees Nat Hunter and Drew Savage, and auctioneer Fred Lee, was perfect for getting the crowd excited to bid really high on the live auction and ‘fund-a-therapy’ portions. Once Famous Players band hit the stage, people couldn’t sit still as they got up danced into the night to hit after hit!The night not only raised a lot of money, it also highlighted the work of both the school program and adult program, it raised awareness for autism spectrum disorders, and it allowed us to show our donors and supporters how much we appreciate their dedication to the society. It was an honour to present Els for Autism Canada with this year's Honouree Award as they so generously provide our school families with affordable access to the year-round Before and After School Care program.

Thank you to everyone who attended, donated, and volunteered - we are already looking forward to our 10th gala next year!

A very special thank you to our Executive Gala Committee: Allison Arai, Mandy Butler, Teri Christopher, Afsaneh Hakimzadeh, Katy Harandi, Sussan Harandi, Annabelle Joyce, Karim Kamrani, Andrea Kasunic, Aida Leung, Cindy Maltman, Ashley Oakes, Stephanie Williams, and Alice Wong.

And a great huge thank you to our sponsors:

Diamond - The Sutton Place Hotels
Platinum - Wesco Industries Ltd.
Gold - Edgewater Casino, Grosvenor, and Wesbild
Silver - North West Dental Reconstructions
Raffle - WestJet
Media - 103.5 QMFM
Photo Collection By Sweat Pea Photography
Adult Program Update
-By Karin Terado
Hello Everyone,
Well it’s been a very busy spring for PALS adult program, with lots of good news to share with you!
First I’d like to introduce you to Tanya Salih, our newest student.  Tanya is an engaging young woman with a love of design, arts and crafts, sewing and all things glittery!  She’s been doing an amazing job settling in to a brand new routine and getting to know new friends, new teachers and a new program.  I’m happy to report that already she’s become an integral part of the group.  Please join me in welcoming Tanya and her family to PALS.
This past month also saw the adult program hold its’ Third Annual Pamper Day and Awards Ceremony.  This combination event, in which students have their hair trimmed and styled by our fabulous team of stylists from The Dreadquarters, (thank you Becca, Susan and Kris) have a spa manicure (thank you Ally) and their makeup professionally done by Krista, was held on April 13th.  A lunch of pizza, fruit and cake was served after which the students, looking very sharp, received their certificates of achievement and medals, and were celebrated by their peers and friends.  It was a great day for everyone!
We’re also happy to announce the start of two new programs:  PALS Entrepreneurs and PALS Performing Arts.  PALS Entrepreneurs will focus on developing an in-house social enterprise which will help our students learn about being part of a project from coming up with the idea, to tracking expenses, making prototypes and producing the product.  This class came about because of the fantastic experience we had making the lovely candle give-aways that helped grace the tables at PALS 9th Annual Imagine Gala, An Evening of Good Vibes.   The candles were a fantastic success and I can’t express how proud I am of what the students and staff accomplished together.  A special thank you must go out to Nikki F. who spearheaded the work and oversaw the process from beginning to end.

The second new class, PALS Performing Arts, is a combination of Music, Dance and Drama Games, designed to combine team work with physical movement, while encouraging students to follow instructions in a social and fun environment.  This term we’re using the music of Michael Jackson as the theme for all three components of the class.   
I’d also like to share with you the good news that on Feb 1st 2016, the adult program was presented with a cheque for $2,500 – a designated donation from Fiona Walsh and Emily Wyatt of the Sauder School of Business, Hari B. Varshney Business Career Centre, who are this years’ co-winners of the Graeme A.G. Stamp Community Project Award!  Thank you Fiona and Emily for your generousity!  At this time I would also like to take the opportunity to wish Fiona all the best as she moves ‘across the pond’ to take on responsibilities at the London School of Business.  We wish her all the best and thank her very much for being such a wonderful supporter and tireless advocate of our young adults and their abilities – she will be greatly missed.
And the last, but definitely not the least, bit of good news to share with you is that EFAP (Employee and Family Assistance Program) of Vancouver Coastal Health has come aboard as our first employer to negotiate a paid contract for one of our students!  Thanks to Stacy Sprague and her willingness to shepherd the process from beginning to end, Julia C. is now an official member of VCH staff! Congratulations to Julia on her promotion and thanks to Stacy, and all of her team, for being such forward-thinking and committed supporters of the concept of ‘equal pay for equal work’.
In closing I would like to thank PALS amazing gala committee for the wonderful, record-breaking event they hosted at the Vancouver Convention Centre on April 9th and our incredibly generous supporters, donors, friends, families, staff, volunteers and Board of Directors, who all contributed so much to making this event, in support of such an important cause, such a fabulous success!
PALS Students Catch Fresh Tracks at Grouse Mountain
-By Andrea Kasunic
For the very first time, PALS students embarked on a series of winter activity lessons this February at Grouse Mountain Resort. Typically our field trips are one day long and offer the students a ‘taste’ of a new activity. For children with autism, trying something once does not give enough teaching opportunities for basic skill acquisition, never mind mastery and generalization! Thanks to the fundraising efforts of the PALS Parent Support Group and a small grant from Edelman Vancouver, students were able to enjoy 4 weekly visits to the mountain, giving them the best chance to learn a new recreational activity.

Eight students signed up for ski lessons and eight students signed up for guided snowshoe hikes. Thanks to the amazing and accommodating staff at Grouse Mountain, everyone gained new skills each week, building onto what they tried the week before. Highlights for the skiers included making the perfect 'pizza' stop, linking turns without knocking over any pylons, and moving from the bunny hill to skiing the entire Cut! Highlights for the snowshoers included traversing up steep and narrow paths to get to scenic views, discovering a snow cave and throwing snowballs inside it, and hiking 1.6km through challenging and diverse terrain in under 1 hour! All the students excelled individually and surpassed any expectations their families and PALS staff had set for them!

 Although summer is just around the corner, we have already begun doing the snow dance for next year!
A Visit from the Ministry of Education at PALS Autism School
-By Andrea Kasunic
On Friday April 15th, Honourable Minister of Education Mike Bernier, along with Deputy Minister Dave Byng, visited the students and staff at the school program. Unbeknownst to them, they got to participate in a drama lesson as well as music class! Minister Bernier didn’t hesitate to lead the students in a rendition of “Old McDonald” using an aided language board, making every barn yard animal come to life! It was a great opportunity to share with Minister Bernier and Deputy Minister Byng about all the amazing education being provided to the students of PALS, highlighting what makes us different from other schools.
$20 Personal Earthquake Kits for Sale by PALS Work Skills Program
-By Andrea Kasunic
The Work Skills class at the school program recently kicked off a new fundraising project: students 16 years and older are gaining work experience and raising money for their community outings by assembling personal earthquake kits and selling them for $20. Included in each kit is: 1 water bottle, 1 food bar, 1 roll of duct tape, 1 whistle, 1 emergency blanket, 1 candle, and 1 matchbook. It also includes 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! Please allow a 2 week turnaround for your order to be ready for pick-up.
We’d like to thank 3 Vets on Yukon Street in Vancouver for their support of the Work Skills program as they have generously offered us a discount on the materials needed for each kit.
Ee – I – Ee – I - Oh! PALS Goes to Maplewood Farms
-By Rebecca Taylor
This winter and spring, students in the level 1 and 2 classrooms have been learning about farm animals. Given that the farm has many unique sights, sounds, smells, and tactile sensations, this topic not only let us work on our language arts and communication goals but also our science unit on the five senses. With the assistance of the communication board, SMARTBOARD technology, writing activities, games and our really hardworking students, we expanded our knowledge of farm animals and were ready to take it to the test at a real farm! To wrap up our unit on farm animals PALS visited Maplewood Farm in North Vancouver. From feeding ducks, to petting goats, to seeing a live milking demonstration, students had the opportunity to actually experience all the things we had been learning about –while also having a lot of fun too!
Earth Day Celebrations at PALS
-By Gay Salvador - Pormento
On April 20, 2016, PALS staff and students participated in the Great Canadian Shoreline Clean-up at Jericho Beach in partnership with West Point Grey Academy. In the beginning of the school year, PALS signed up for the ‘WE Schools’ movement and the Level 3 and 4 students learned to use a compost bin for leftover foods and fruit peels as a contribution to the ‘WE Schools’ project demonstrating a local impact. The Great Canadian Shoreline Clean Up was PALS’ contribution demonstrating a global impact. At the beach, students became 'Citizen Scientists' as they picked up garbage and recorded what they found. For now, these activities conclude our Social Studies lesson about the importance of caring for the environment. Staff and students alike will carry forward these fun and meaningful experiences as they move ahead.
A Furry Visitor From the BC SPCA
-By Yvonne Lam
On April 5, 2016, PALS school had the pleasure of welcoming two very special guests from the BC SPCA: Jeanine Jaramillo, the Regional Humane Education Coordinator, and her dog Kimmy, a sociable and well-mannered Daschund. Students participated in the ‘Bite Free’ presentation where they learned how to behave safely and be more confident around dogs. They also learned to identify signals dogs use to express their emotions and also learned about how their own actions may evoke responses in dogs. Using behaviour skills training, Jeanine provided instructions and models of appropriate behaviours around dogs followed by guided practice opportunities on approaching and petting a stuffed dog before introducing Kimmy. All of the students had a chance to pet Kimmy and some even gave her treats! A big thank you to the BC SPCA for the wonderful opportunity.
PALS Representing at the 8th Annual BC Association for Behaviour Analysis Conference
-By Andrea Kasunic
At this year’s BC-ABA conference, held at Capilano University, a number of PALS school program staff presented during multiple sessions. Assistant Behaviour Analyst, Yvonne Lam, presented her thesis research titled “Differential Observing and Error Correction Procedure for Conditional Discriminations”. Classroom Teacher, Rebecca Tayler, and Speech and Language Pathologist, Shannon Muir, presented alongside UBC Professor, Dr. Pat Mirenda, on the topic of “Aided Language Modeling for Individuals who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication”. And in spirit, Andrea Kasunic contributed to the ‘Ethics Panel for Centre-Based Settings’. The conference was also attended by 9 staff members as part of their professional development, learning of current ABA applications and ongoing research in British Columbia. Anyone interested in learning more about PALS’ presentations is welcome to contact the school for information.
Autism Awareness Month
-By Andrea Kasunic
April was Autism Awareness Month and the world was lit up blue, especially on Saturday April 2nd, officially known as Autism Awareness Day. To honour our students and families, we ask that you not stop in April but that you help advocate all year long by doing the following:
1. Raise awareness -distribute information about autism to anyone and everyone who will listen! Tell them to visit for the most reliable information about autism and intervention.
2. Support an autism charity -make a donation to PALS!
3. Use social media to spread the word about what you're doing -use ‪#AutismAwareness #AutismAcceptance #ABA in your posts! Make sure you’re ‘friends’ with PALS on Facebook and that you follow us on Twitter too!
4. Attend the free events put on by organizations like the Canucks Autism Network, the Autism Support Network, and the Autism Society of BC.
5. Run with PALS Runners in one of the many races we do throughout the year, from the East Side 10k, the Sun Run, the Scotia Bank half marathon  –our shirts always say “PALS Autism School” so all the other runners in the races will learn we exist!!!
6. Wear blue clothing!
7. ‘Light it up blue’ -shine blue light in your home or workplace with a blue light bulb or lantern! You can buy the bulbs at Home Depot with portions of proceeds going Autism Speaks Canada.
It was so neat to see all the world landmarks lit up blue on World Autism Awareness Day – here in Vacouver Rogers Arena, BC Place, and the airport tower were all be blue. Other iconic landmarks included the Empire State building AND as if just for our gala, the Great Buddha of Hyogo in Japan waslit blue to honor the millions of individuals and families around the world living with autism.
Our advocacy is needed now more than ever! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states autism prevalence is 1 in 68 children. It is also estimated that 70 million people are affected by autism worldwide, making it an urgent public health priority that requires increasing global awareness, services and research.
PALS would like to take this opportunity to thank the many people and organizations who generously donated to the school and adult program in February, March and April; Army, Navy and Airforce Unit 100, Parvaneh Berjis, CORIX - Group of Companies, Shirley Cryderman, Joe Demelo, Bruce and Karin Goldsmid, Gordon and Sharon Grams, Hamid and Katy Harandi, Kenneth and Aida Leung,  Mas and Fumi Nakade, Greg Pallone, Mark and Monika Porter, Vincent Tong and Hoyeol Yu. This support allows us to continue delivering exceptional academic, behavioural, and life skills programming to students and young adults with autism spectrum disorders.
Cards for Sale - created by PALS School Student Casey Maltman
Price: $10 for package of 8 cards (4 of each image below).  If interested please call the school at 604.251.7257 or email **All proceeds benefit PALS Autism Society - school programs.
Professional Day - School Closed
Friday, May 20th

Victoria Day - School Closed
Monday, May 23rd

Behaviour Analysis Workshop
-no afterschool care
Thursday, June 23rd

Early Summer Break - School Closed
June 27th - July 1st

School Re-opens - Summer Term
Monday, July 4th
Victoria Day  - Program Closed
Monday, May 23rd

Canada Day  - Program Closed
Friday, July 1st

Copyright © 2016 PALS Autism Society, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list