World’s only evidence-based social skills program for teens to launch at LDS this winter

World’s only evidence-based social skills program for teens to launch at LDS this winter

The Learning Disabilities Society (LDS) is always seeking ways to improve our services for kids with learning differences and their families. That is why we are so excited to announce that:

LDS is now certified to offer PEERS®—the only evidence-based teen social skills program in the world

Developed by Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson at the University of California—Los Angeles (UCLA), the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®) has been shown to be effective for adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, and socio-emotional issues. (1)

PEERS® is a social skills intervention for motivated teens ages 13-18 and their guardians. After an intake, teens and their parents or caregivers will attend 14 weekly group sessions. Each session will last about an hour and a half. While guardians attend group sessions where they are coached in supporting their teens, youths work with each other in separate, simultaneous sessions to learn and practice important social skills like:

  • entering and exiting a conversation
  • using humour appropriately
  • handling disagreements with friends
  • managing teasing or rejection
  • friendly sportsmanship
  • how to be a good host during get-togethers and other skills (2)

A high degree of commitment from the whole family is important for program success. Studies have shown that “parents can have significant effects upon their child’s friendships, both in terms of direct instruction and supervision, as well as supporting their child’s development of an appropriate peer network.” (3)

Because of the difference that parental involvement makes in youth outcomes, parent participation is required. Participants must attend all sessions, as they cannot be skipped or rescheduled. Additionally, the same parent(s) or guardian(s) should attend each session with their teen. The results are worth the time and effort of participation.

Research studies indicate that PEERS® improves teen social skills and mental health symptoms, as well as family stress levels. (4)

If you are interested in participating in PEERS® with your child, please see our program page for more detailed information and to fill out an application form.


(1) “The Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®)” Program Fact Sheet, The Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, David Geffen School of Medicine.
(2) “Social Skills Group For Adolescents” Teen Clinic Flyer, UCLA PEERS® Clinic.
(3) Elizabeth A. Laugeson, Fred Frankel, Catherine Mogil, Ashley R. Dillion, “Parent-Assisted Social Skills Training to Improve Friendships in Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorders,” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 39 (2009): 597.
(4) Christine T. Moody, Elizabeth A. Laugeson, “Social Skills Training in Autism Spectrum Disorder Across the Lifespan, Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America 29 (2020): 363; Laura L. Corona, Cortney Janicki, Anna Milgramm, Kristin V. Christodulu, “Brief Report: Reductions in Parenting Stress in the Context of PEERS—A Social Skills Intervention for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (31 Aug 2019), .


How SAP’s Social Sabbatical Project Team Helped Us Solve our Data Dilemma

How SAP’s Social Sabbatical Project Team Helped Us Solve our Data Dilemma

Recently, the Learning Disabilities Society (LDS) had the honour of taking part in a project with SAP, a global leader in enterprise application software. Facilitated by PYXERA Global, the SAP Social Sabbatical Project is a pro bono program that aims to connect mission-driven organizations, like LDS, with a team of skilled SAP employees to help address their strategic challenges.  


When LDS initially applied to be a part of the project, our strategic challenge was clear—our data management practices were not scalable; in other words, our practices were holding us back rather than helping us grow 

To give a bit of context, the number of students we serve doubled over the course of one month after the start of our new summer programming. In addition, we have expanded our relationships with funders, sponsors, and new collaborators. To help sustain this type of growth and meet our long-term goal of serving all students with learning differences, our data management practices needed to evolve 

Before participating in the project, we referred to the management of our contacts as “The Excel Tornado” because much of our information was stored in a series of spreadsheets. Our hope was that the SAP Social Sabbatical Project Team could source a Client Relationship Management system (CRM) that would help our organization track and manage our relationships to help us affect systematic change in order to help our students succeed. 

Throughout the month of July, we worked with our amazing SAP Team—Hitomi, Joshua, and Jashan—to define our problem, brainstorm possible solutions, and research potential CRM candidates. We met daily to discuss our progress and work through any challenges we encountered. After extensive research and discussion with both the staff at LDS and the SAP Project Team, we decided on a new CRM system—Keela. 

Keela is a Canadian-based non-profit management software that works to support and empower organizations to affect positive change within society. Now that we have chosen Keela, the team at LDS is excited to get the software up and running so we can further our mission to empower all children and youth with learning disabilities to recognize their unique strengths and develop the tools to achieve life-long confidence and success.   

We would once again like to give a huge thank you to SAP, PYXERA Global, and our Project Team for supporting LDS throughout this journey. Hitomi, Joshua, and Jashan devoted countless hours to making our project a success—we cannot thank them enough!

LDS RISE at Home in the News

Our new online RISE at Home one-to-one instruction and summer camps have received significant media attention. Check out some of our favourite media features below.

March 27, 2020Richard Zussman speaks with our Executive Director Rachel Forbes on Global News Vancouver, highlighting our RISE at Home online, dynamic one-to-one instruction platform as one of the ways vulnerable learners can be continued to be supported during a transition to online school for all students.

March 29, 2020 – Our Executive Director Rachel Forbes spoke with CTV Vancouver about our new online learning tool RISE at Home for at-home learning. We were able to adapt and launch this program quickly in response to COVID-19 social distancing measures.

March 30, 2020 – Mornings with Simi Sara on CKNW News Radio interviewed our Executive Director Rachel Forbes about the launch of RISE at Home.

April 1, 2020 – Rachel S. Forbes’ OpEd was published in the Province, discussing how we all need to support vulnerable learners during COVID-19.

March 29, 2020 – Diane Strandberg reports on how we are offering RISE at Home to help children while they’re away from the classroom. 

April 4, 2020 – PIQUE magazine lists LDS as an online learning resource for children with learning challenges.

May 8, 2020 – The BC Catholic writes about the challenges of online learning for students with learning disabilities, and highlights how RISE at Home is helping students and parents navigate this challenging time.

April 2020 – Article written by Howard Wu. RISE at Home is listed as one of the valuable resources for families during the COVID-10 Pandemic.  

April 2020 – Our Kids listed RISE at Home in the resource list for Virtual Kids’ camps and programs – learning and growing online, during social isolation. 

CBC logo

July 2020 – CBC News in British Columbia includes our summer camps in their list of recommended camps with improved hygiene protocols for COVID-19.

Press Release: Children With Learning Disabilities Can Learn At Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic Thanks to a New Online Platform 

Press Release: Children With Learning Disabilities Can Learn At Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic Thanks to a New Online Platform 


The Learning Disabilities Society’s RISE at Home supports vulnerable students 

Vancouver, B.C., March 25, 2020 ─ Today, the Learning Disabilities Society (LDS)—in the face of COVID-19 related school closures and physical distancing—announced the launch of RISE at Home, a new, innovative online learning platform providing students with learning disabilities one-to-one at-home instruction. This tool will be available beginning March 30th, when students were set to return to the classroom following Spring Break. LDS is a local non-profit charity which provides programming to students with suspected or diagnosed learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, auditory processing disorders and others. 

“Consistent learning support is especially critical for students with learning disabilities,” said Rachel Forbes, Executive Director, Learning Disabilities Society. “By designing a system that combines online learning with personalized instruction, we can provide some of the much-needed engagement and continuity that not only curtails potential regression through a break from school, but positively impacts learning.” 

LDS’s RISE at Home (Research-informed Individualized Student Education) sessions support vulnerable learners by utilizing dynamic and interactive software that enables LDS instructors to customize lessons based on the needs of students, just as they would during in-person sessions. The new format of the LDS RISE at Home program makes it available to students learning from home throughout Greater Vancouver. 

In keeping with its mandate of ensuring that high-quality learning support is available to all students, regardless of circumstance, LDS offers bursaries to families in need. The pricing structure is based on a sliding scale model to make it accessible to all who need it. 

Responding to the needs of its community at this critical time, LDS is providing additional services through RISE at Home including: 

  • Access to secure specialized educational software with interactive tools and a dynamic interface at no extra cost
  • Increased instructional hours, Monday through Saturday 9am to 7pm
  • An online library to support families in effective home learning, including videos, technology support and webinars (e.g. Walk a MileInMy Shoes on April 1 and Disability Tax Credit on April 23 

Eva Cipera, whose daughter in grade 7 has a diagnosed learning disability, has already been using the RISE at Home program. She was granted early access during the program’s trial phase. “The system that LDS has set up is a rich, dynamic platform. It is great to see the potential to integrate all sorts of media, templates and resources that can enhance the online lesson,” she says. “My daughter found it very intuitive to use.” 

“Our team of instructors and staff are very pleased to offer ongoing individualized educational support to our community, helping to provide resources and structure at a time when families are feeling multiple pressures,” said Forbes. “RISE at Home is one more way LDS is diversifying its services to ensure we are empowering all students with learning challenges. We are now able to take these technological tools and apply them to our RISE & Tell and RISE & Solve Summer Camps to ensure that programming continues regardless of our ability to meet in groups come July.” 

LDS is grateful to its thoughtful and generous community of supporters who through financial and in-kind donations are enabling LDS to rapidly develop and expand its online services platform and offer RISE at Home to children and youth in Greater Vancouver. 

As a non-profit, LDS relies on donations and community support in order to sustain its programming and provide bursaries to families in need during this challenging time. Those interested in making a financial contribution to help vulnerable students access RISE at Home are encouraged to visit LDS’s Giving page: LDS is doing its best to ensure that all families are supported during this time; they encourage families to visit their website for learning resources or if they don’t have access to the internet to call LDS offices for support. 

– 30 – 

Media Contact: 

Rachel S. Forbes 
Executive Director, Learning Disabilities Society 

About Learning Disabilities Society (LDS): 

Founded in 1970, LDS is a non-profit charity that serves children with suspected or diagnosed learning disabilities by providing customized learning support. LDS’s Research-informed Individualized Student Education (RISE) program enables students to understand their unique strengths and find success in the classroom. The organization is committed to making high-quality, affordable learning support accessible to all students, regardless of circumstance. 

LDS RISE at HOME in the News

Click the links below to see the latest press coverage.

Global News – March 27, 2020

CTV News  – March 29, 2020

TriCity News – March 29, 2020

CKNW with Simi Sara – March 30, 2020

The Province – April 1, 2020



COVID-19: LDS’s proactive measures and updates

COVID-19: LDS’s proactive measures and updates

Dear LDS community members,

This space will be updated as proactive measures and policy or practice changes are made by LDS in response to the evolving COVID-19 situation. Last update: March 17, 2020

What is LDS doing?

We would like to assure you that LDS staff are monitoring the COVID-19 situation on an ongoing basis. We are keeping abreast of measures being taken by health authorities, local schools and others, and are aware of information shared by various public health and government authorities.

As of March 16, all staff are working remotely.

We are prioritizing the set up of remote online software to ensure that our instruction can continue following spring break. We will be updating our instructors and our families as soon as possible to confirm timing, technology options and programming that will be offered online starting approximately March 30th.

We have and will continue to increase the thoroughness of cleaning at our facilities, including regular disinfection of surfaces, door handles, table tops. For the time being no work or instruction is happening at our Learning Centres.

To ensure as much safety as possible, LDS has temporarily (until April 30) amended our cancellation policy. Families may now cancel sessions due to sickness without being charged. We will update this policy if/as necessary. We have also urged parents to report any signs of illness right away and cancel their session.

We have asked our instructors and staff to report any of their own symptoms immediately to us, and to alert us of any suspected symptoms in students, parents, other staff or anyone interacting with the LDS community.

What can you do?

In line with guidance from the government, please stay home as much as possible, including not attending school or work places.

If you feel unwell, please notify LDS immediately and do not go into schools or LDS offices. If you have come into contact with any known or suspected cases of COVID-19 locally or internationally within the past 14+ days, please alert us immediately and do not go into LDS offices or any schools.

Since respiratory viruses, such as the one that causes COVID-19, are spread through contact, change how you greet one another. Instead of a handshake, a kiss or a hug, a friendly wave is less likely to expose you to respiratory viruses.

Practice frequent hand hygiene and coughing and sneezing etiquette. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, such as toys, phones and door handles.

These are the most important ways that you can protect yourself and your family from respiratory illness, including COVID-19.

Support our families

If you are able to give, your support now will mean that we are better able to move all of our instruction online to ensure continuity of service and support to all of our families during this time when we need each other’s help the most.

Please consider donating or becoming a monthly supporter today. Charitable receipts are issued through CanadaHelps.


We encourage you to consult information and resources from reputable sources. Some of our suggestions include:

Advice by the Canadian government on COVID-19 as well as information on symptoms and prevention measures can be found here

Q&A for Kids from the BC CDC:

BC CDC information:–resources

If you have any concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. INFO@LDSOCIETY.CA or 604.873.8139

New LDS Trust Fund Established

New LDS Trust Fund Established

Inspired by the message and goals—and success!—of our #100Kfor100Kids Winter Fundraising Campaign, one generous LDS donor has established a new $50,000 Nitikman/Chan Trust Fund for LDS.

Each year, LDS will use income from the Trust Fund to support children and youth with learning disabilities who are in need. We are very excited about this new fund and are grateful for the commitment and passion that this donor, and the LDS community, has shown for supporting children with learning disabilities.

100K for 100 Kids Raises $129,705

100K for 100 Kids Raises $129,705

We’re excited to announce that our $100K for 100 Kids Winter Fundraising Campaign was a tremendous success. With your generous support, we were able to raise an incredible $129,705! Our sincerest thanks go out to everyone who made donations and helped us spread the word about the campaign—we couldn’t have done it without you.

Thanks to your support, we will now be able to make critical learning support services affordable and accessible for 100 children with learning disabilities in 2020. Thank you for helping us work towards a future in which NO STUDENT IS LEFT BEHIND.