Frequently Asked Questions
What is the PALS model?
PALS Autism School is the only specialized and dedicated elementary and secondary school in British Columbia for children and adolescents with autism. We provide year-round schooling and programming using effective and scientifically validated instruction, based on the principles of Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA). This is the most effective, scientifically validated instruction to maximize the development of each student’s communication, language, social, academic and life/independence skills.
How are the programs structured?
All children at PALS undergo a thorough assessment of language, learning and life skills to determine their current functional level and skills. Each child is provided with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that follows the B.C. Education Curriculum.
Students are placed into the class that best fits their current level of ability to participate in group instruction. Functional communication and peer interaction is encouraged through small group instruction of subjects including social studies, science, the arts and physical education. Students are taught core skills through individualized tactics that reward good behaviours and eventually bring students to a level where they can practice these skills independently. The core skills are then reinforced intermittently to ensure the students generalize and maintain them, building a solid foundation for life.
Each student is guaranteed at least 1.5 hours of one-to-one instruction each day, targeting skills that are more challenging to learn in a group format.
Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Intensive Behaviour Intervention are available to every student to support their Individualized Education Plan and development at PALS Autism School.
What will my child learn?
PALS Autism School teaches students core academic curriculum including reading, writing and arithmetic, as well as core life skills they need to enter the community and interact with others including: personal grooming, bathroom habits, house chores, social interactions and play.
Who teaches at PALS Autism School?
The Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) trained staff consist of two certified teachers working alongside 12 educational interventionists supervised by our full-time, in-house Board Certified Behaviour Analyst, Andrea Kasunic.
How are staff trained?
Are staff medically trained?
How many students attend PALS Autism School?
PALS currently has a capacity of 16 students at the current facility.
What is the ratio of staff to students?
PALS Autism School provides schooling and programming year-round with a 2:3 instructor to student ratio. For some students requiring more hands-on attention, we provide a 1:1 ratio to ensure their needs are met.
Do students receive a diploma once they finish the program?
Graduates of PALS Autism School can either receive a School Completion Certificate or a Dogwood Diploma from the Ministry of Education.
Does a child need to be verbal to attend?
Are other special needs children included in the PALS program?
PALS Autism School is the only school in British Columbia focused purely on educating students with autism; however, the principles of ABA can be applied to any individual requiring a more systematic approach to learning. PALS will intake a student who has a different disability as long as they qualify for the Level 2 Special Education Grant from the Ministry of Education.
Do students interact with one another or other children their age?
Social interaction is one of our primary goals. We aim to bring our students to a level where they can interact with one another as well as other children. Other children with autism from the community visit PALS Autism School each week to interact with our students and develop these skills.
Are there speech-language, occupational or physical therapists on staff or available for consultation?
At present, the Mary and Gordon Christopher Foundation has donated funds to provide Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) consultation for all students. Occupational Therapy (OT) consultation is provided on a regular basis and staff at PALS implement recommendations and strategies of OT and SLP throughout the day.
What facilities exist at the school?
PALS has a range of facilities onsite including individual and group learning rooms, spaces for children with a personal safety issue, a small gymnasium with specialized play equipment and a unique outdoor play structure designed with our students’ needs in mind, generously donated by the Canucks for Kids Fund.
What are the school hours?
The PALS school day is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in addition to an hour of intensive intervention from 2 p.m to 3 p.m. after school. This hour is billed monthly and families can use their autism funding for reimbursement. PALS is a year round school with a two week summer break at the end of August, one week off for spring break, two weeks off for Christmas and one week off at the end of June.
What if I can’t drop off or pick up my child according to school hours?
Before school (8 a.m. to 9 a.m.) and after school (3 p.m. 5:30 p.m.) care is optional and available at PALS for an extra cost. Please contact us for further details.
What are the entry requirements for new students?
Students are assessed based on their needs, current functioning level and spaces available at the school to meet that student’s needs.
How do I apply?
Please visit our admission page.
Is there a waiting list?
There is a growing waiting list for attendance at PALS Autism School. If you would like to be added to the waiting list, please send a completed intake application. Once a spot is available that fits your child’s needs, we look through the list to identify the child that would fit best in that grouping. This selection is based on age and functioning level of the child.
How much does the program cost?
Please see our tuition and fees page for details.
How do I follow my child’s progress?
To apply the principals of Applied Behavioural Analysis to our students’ education plan, we ask that parents participate in monitoring their child’s behavior at home and review a detailed analysis of their behaviour and activity at school to help ensure the student’s success and progress at PALS. We provide an online portal for parents to easily provide and access this information at home.