LDS Sends Love and Strength to North Vancouver

Our sincerest condolences to the North Vancouver and Lynn Valley communities affected by this past weekend’s tragedy 

As a charity that strives to provide a safe space to learn for our students, we are deeply saddened that these crimes occurred in a gathering place for community and education.  

We hope we can soon reopen to the families we serve in this area and show that together we are resilient. In the meantime, LDS will be moving our North Vancouver sessions online this week out of respect for those involved and to ensure that our families are not unnecessarily affected by being in the area. 

Our thoughts are with the victims—may they recover quickly. And to North Vancouver’s libraries, businesses, and residents, our love and strength goes out to everyone impacted.  

Please know that the safety and health of our families are of the utmost importance to LDS. We encourage our families to reach out if they require further accommodations during these challenging times.  

With deepest sympathy on behalf of the LDS team,

Rachel S. Forbes, Executive Director


2020 RISE to the Challenge—your contributions will transform over 180 lives!

2020 RISE to the Challenge—your contributions will transform over 180 lives!

The Learning Disabilities Society (LDS) is excited to share the 2020 results of RISE to the Challenge! Through the kind generosity of our donors, our “$100k for 100Kids” campaign raised an amazing $181,461!

The thoughtful contributions of 214 donors will now enable us to support over 180 children and youth in 2021 with our expanded comprehensive programming. 

We were overwhelmed by your outpouring of support from your individual, foundation, and corporate identities—especially in the final weeks of RISE to the Challenge—and were touched by your heartwarming notes of encouragement.   

Coverage in the Vancouver Sun and on Global News raised awareness of LDS and the families we help. Many donors were inspired by our students’ stories of success, which centre on our core values of community, kindness, acceptance and achievement. 

Picture of a student form that says, "How LDS helps me move mountains: LDS helped me read much better."

We were delighted to hear that new programming, including our assistive technology and social robotics initiatives, social-emotional skills training, and family coaching, was so well received. We appreciate your investment into these programs and your trust in our mission.  

Thank you for making a difference for the students, families, and communities the Learning Disabilities Society servesWith your help, 2021 will bring further transformation in the lives of children with learning differences! 

LDS in the News

Our online RISE at Home one-to-one instruction, RISE Assistive Technology, and other programs that have helped us enhance our accessibility have received significant media attention. Check out some of our favourite media features below.

December 31, 2020 – Our Executive Director, Rachel Forbes, was interviewed by Global News on how the pandemic has reduced our ability to raise funds while increasing the need for our services. 

December 16, 2020 – Global News featured LDS as part of its Month of Giving Back. In this feature, our Executive Director Rachel Forbes speaks about our mission and our efforts to continually increase our accessibility and services to support more children and youth.

December 15, 2020 – The Vancouver Sun profiles LDS’s new assistive technology programs to help keep high quality research-based learning supports accessible for all children with learning differences.

December 3, 2020 – RISE TEAM at LDS received a grant to increase accessibility and community inclusion, from the BC Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction

CBC logo

July 5, 2020 – CBC News in British Columbia includes our summer camps in their list of recommended camps with improved hygiene protocols for COVID-19.

May 14, 2020 – The Georgia Straight profiles LDS’s RISE at Home remote learning program, and invites families to apply for the service.

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

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

April 2, 2020 – Rachel S. Forbes’ OpEd was published in the Province, discussing how we all need to support vulnerable learners during COVID-19.

April 1, 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. 

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

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

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.

Will You RISE to the Challenge with Us?

Will You RISE to the Challenge with Us?

At LDS, we are driven by our mission to empower all children and youth with learning differences to recognize their unique strengths and develop the tools to achieve lifelong confidence and success. We want our students to feel like they can move mountains! 

This is an unprecedented time. We are taking unprecedented measures to make sure that our community’s vulnerable learners have continuous help and access to all the learning supports they need to build confidence and succeed in school and throughout life. These supports are critical for each individual child, for their families, and for the health, safety, and sustainability of our communities.  

We cannot afford to have these kids fall through the cracks. 

Now is the time to make sure they know they’re superheroes! Our approach to empowering our students is special because we work to deliver individualized services to each child based on their needs andas a charitywe do that for every student we work with, regardless of the family’s financial situation. 

Here is what our parents have to say: 

“LDS and the bursary that they offer really levels the playing field. The cost of a service should never be something that prevents you from getting your child support.” 

“LDS is an organization that will be supporting you in every step of your child’s struggle. LDS will be there to give a hand to youIt could give you the support. It’s not education, it’s not just money; it is all the support. LDS has helped so much.” 

“Even though I am working, it’s not sufficient enough for me to be able to access the services. LDS opened up their arms and they said to me, ‘Don’t worry about it. LDS has in-house financial support.’” 

I feel so grateful. I feel thanks for the financial program, because if I had to pay for it by myself, I don’t think I could do it for my two sons.” 

Will you RISE to the Challenge with us?

Donate now at RISE to the Challenge and help LDS support its most vulnerable learners. 


The Learning Disabilities Society Partners with the University of Waterloo to Study the Benefits of Social Robot Interaction with Children with Learning Disabilities

The Learning Disabilities Society Partners with the University of Waterloo to Study the Benefits of Social Robot Interaction with Children with Learning Disabilities


PDF version here

Vancouver, B.C., November 30, 2020 – Today, the Learning Disabilities Society (LDS) announced partnership with the University of Waterloo’s Social and Intelligent Robotics Research Laboratory (SIRRL) to study the potential for assistive robot technology incorporation in programfor children with suspected or diagnosed learning disabilities and related disabilities, such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, auditory processing disorders, ADHD and others.    

Through partnership with SIRRL, LDS is expanding its assistive technology program to incorporate developments in state-of-the-art assistive robotics with multiple potential benefits that include increased engagement, improved speech language progress, enhanced social-emotional learningand enhanced accessibility during periods with restrictive COVID-19 protocols 

By partnering with the University of Waterloo SIRRL, we will have the opportunity to study the incorporation of leading-edge social robotics technology that has been used successfully to advance social skills and emotion control with children with cognitive disabilities including autism,” said Rachel ForbesExecutive Director, LDS. The results of our collaboration could make a transformative difference in the learning outcomes for our student community. 

University of Waterloo’s SIRRL was founded in 2018 by Professors Kerstin Dautenhahn and Chrystopher Nehaniv to pursue advancements in social robotics, human-robotic interaction, cognitive and developmental robotics and embodied artificial intelligence. The goal of SIRRL’s research is to advance knowledge in social and intelligent robotics and to develop robots that can make a positive contribution to human society. Lead investigator Dr. Dautenhahn, Canada 150 Research Chair in Intelligent Robotics, has studied human-robot interaction for over 20 years, including extensive work with robots working together with human instructors to teach children social skills in ways not possible with only human instructors.  

am excited to partner with the Learning Disabilities Society to investigate assistive robot interaction with students with learning and related disabilities,” said Professor DautenhahnCo-Director SIRRL. “During my research over the past 20 years I have observed remarkable engagement of children with autism with assistive robots that the children found highly approachable. am excited to extend this work to now include students with learning and related disabilities and to incorporate our findings into individual programs with very material, positive impact. 

LDS and SIRRL plan to commence a pilot assistive robot study with students at LDS Learning Centre starting in 2021 with significant potential for program expansion over time. The partnership furthers the efforts of LDS and SIRRL to ensure accessibility and inclusiveness of educational support for all children and youth with special education needs. 

LDS is grateful to its thoughtful and generous community of supporters who through financial and in-kind donations are enabling LDS to develop and expand its assistive technology offerings for children and youth.  

As a non-profit, Vancouver-based charity, LDS relies on donations and community support in order to sustain its programming and provide bursaries to families in financial need. Those interested in making a financial contribution to help vulnerable students with learning and related disabilities are encouraged to visit LDS’s Giving page:  


Media Contacts:  

Rachel S. Forbes
Executive Director, Learning Disabilities Society

Dr. Kerstin Dautenhahn
Director of SIRRL, University of Waterloo
519-888-4567 x314155



Photos available (SIRRL): or via 

Video available (LDS RISE-AT)  

Video available (SIRRL Beyond Human) 

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 and beyondLDS is committed to making high-quality, affordable learning support accessible to all families, regardless of circumstance.  

About University of Waterloo Social and Intelligent Robotics Research Laboratory (SIRRL):  

SIRRL was founded in August 2018 when Professors Kerstin Dautenhahn and Chrystopher Nehaniv moved from the United Kingdom to University of Waterloo. SIRRL research is situated in the fields of social robotics, human-robot interaction, cognitive and developmental robotics and embodied artificial intelligence. SIRRL is on a journey to discover fundamental principles and mechanisms that can make robots more socially intelligent, as well as enabling them to interact with people in a trustworthy and efficient but also “natural” and socially acceptable manner. The goal of SIRRL’s research is to advance knowledge in social and intelligent robotics and to develop robots that can make a positive contribution to human society. 


Local Charity Provides Children with Learning Disabilities Access to Leading Edge Assistive Technologies to Help Them Excel in School and Life

Local Charity Provides Children with Learning Disabilities Access to Leading Edge Assistive Technologies to Help Them Excel in School and Life


PDF version here

VANCOUVER., November 23, 2020 – Today, the Learning Disabilities Society (LDS) announced the launch of its RISE Assistive Technology Program (RISE-AT) which incorporates an impressive collection of leadingedge assistive technology hardware and software tools to assist children and youth with learning disabilities and social-emotional challenges 

LDS is a local non-profit charity that currently provides Research-informed Individualized Student Education (RISE) programming to students with suspected or diagnosed learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, auditory processing disorders, ADHD and others.  LDS is now furthering the accessibility and inclusiveness of its support with the launch of RISE-AT to provide students with additional opportunities to leverage their individual strengths. RISE-AT is helping LDS instructors teach more effectively, promote greatestudent engagement, and enhance student learning and progress. 

am extremely proud to be collaborating with our growing list of 15 technology company sponsors to be able to offer this exceptional collection of assistive technology educational supports to our students,” said Rachel Forbes, Executive Director, Learning Disabilities Society. “After doing extensive research on how assistive technology is being used effectively with children with learning differences around the world, we have assembled a group of software and hardware tools that will not only provide our students new tools and strategies for academic success, but will also help build their engagement, confidence and ability to self-regulate.” 

To further inspire community engagement and access, LDS has built its RISE-AT Studio which showcases leading-edge assistive hardware and software tools and is available for public access and trialLDS’s goal is to inspire a collaborative community of technology users and developers to advance assistive technology innovation and adoption to support the advancement of accessible and inclusive education for those with special education needs.  

Highlights of LDS’s current RISE-AT offering include: 

  • A large format interactive SMART Board and SMART software from SMART Technologies used for in-person and online instruction;  
  • Read&Write by Texthelpa powerful software tool that offers a range of literacy support features to help students create and engage with content across all grade levels and subjects, allowing them to optimize their own personal learning styles to meet their full potential; 
  • Mindmeister by MeisterLabsan intuitive visual mind mapping tool that assists students with their creative thinking, self-regulation, organization and planning; 
  • BeeLine Reader by BeeLine Reader, a software system which adds colour gradients to digital text to improve reading ability and focus; 
  • Juno by FrontRowan auditory and voice command system that boosts listening, participation, confidence, and comprehension; 
  • Grammarly by Grammarly, software tools for digital writing assistance; 
  • Echo SmartPen by Livescribe, a handwriting tool that transcribes written notes to digital text and voice; 
  • C-Pen Reader by Scanning Pens, a text-to-speech scanner specially designed for individuals with dyslexia;   
  • Lexilight by Lexilife, a specially designed reading aid lamp for individuals with dyslexia; 
  • A large screen monitor and 12 Surface Pros donated by Microsoft that facilitate access to RISE-AT software tools; and  
  • Calming and meditation toolsincluding Muse by InteraXon, Focus Calm by BrainCo, calming weighted accessories from Harkla, and other manipulatives and technologyenhanced accessories that will make up our multi-sensory calming room. 

Melanie, whose daughter in Grade 3 has a diagnosed learning disability, appreciates LDS’s researchbased, technology-enhanced approach: “Coming from a research background myself, I value that LDS’s instruction and methodology is based on the latest research, and that my daughter can access learning supports including assistive technology that are at the forefront of what’s available for students with learning differences.”  

“Our company is honoured to be partnering with LDS to help students with learning differences,” says Jeffrey Kassa of MindMeister. “We are excited to see the real life impact that our creative and flexible software tools can have on the learning outcomes of children and youth with learning differences.” 

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 assistive technology offerings for children and youth in Greater Vancouver and virtually throughout BC.  

As a charity, we serve many families who are disproportionately affected by the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Forbes. “With LDS RISE-AT we further our commitment to ensure that all children and youth have continuous access to research-based learning supports of the highest quality and integrity 

As a non-profit, LDS relies on donations and community support in order to sustain its programming and provide bursaries to families in financial need. Those interested in making a financial contribution to help vulnerable students access RISE-AT are encouraged to visit LDS’s Giving page:  


Media Contact:  

Rachel S. Forbes 
Executive Director, Learning Disabilities Society 
604.345.9129 (mobile) 


Technology Company Contacts (contact details available on request): 

  • Laura James, FrontRow 
  • Jeffrey KassaMindMeister  
  • Alek Kolga, SMART Technologies  


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 and beyondLDS is committed to making high-quality, affordable learning support accessible to all families, regardless of circumstance.  



PEERS Registration Now Open!

PEERS Registration Now Open!

Registration is now open for our 2021 PEERS group!  

What is PEERS? 

The Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®) is world-renowned for providing evidence-based social skills treatment to preschoolers, adolescents, and young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, and other socio-emotional problems. 

Please see our PEERS Program page for more details: 

Who can benefit from PEERS? 

This program is suitable for teens between the ages of 13 – 15 who are motivated to improve their social skills and learn how to make and keep friends. Please note that we may expand the age group for this PEERS session based on interest, so if your child falls slightly outside of the age requirements but may still benefit from PEERS, we encourage you to apply!  

When will PEERS be offered? 

Parent and Teen sessions will run simultaneously on Tuesday evenings from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. The program is 16 weeks long and will be held from January – April 2021.  

Where do the PEERS sessions take place?

Our Learning Centre in East Vancouver (3292 East Broadway). If required for public health and safety reasons, we may offer PEERS online.

How do I register for PEERS? 

Apply via our online application form.

Interested families should register as soon as possible as spaces will be on a first come first serve basis; we recommend applying before December 10, 2020. 

Families will be contacted in December to confirm placement within the program. Please note that this application does not guarantee admission into the program. 


UBC and LDS collaboration brings affordable, accessible psychoeducational assessments to students

UBC and LDS collaboration brings affordable, accessible psychoeducational assessments to students

LDS is thrilled to announce to our families that we are now able to offer referrals for psychoeducational and neuropsychological evaluations to some of our families!


We are collaborating with the University of British Columbia’s Psychological Services and Counselling Training Centre (PSCTC). The PSCTC is a university-based setting for clinical training and research within the UBC’s Faculty of Education. The PSCTC supports graduate training in psychoeducational assessment and intervention, and in counselling, maintains an up-to-date Test Library of psychoeducational assessment and intervention and mental health and social development resources, provides service and leadership in the profession and community, and facilitates research in education.


This collaboration with UBC will be a game changer for many of our families, who will now have access to an affordable assessment over a time span that is potentially years faster than currently available via other means. Having this additional evidence and deeper understanding about their child’s learning strengths and stretches will help our families be better advocates for their children and ensure they get learning supports that are tailored to their child’s needs.


These evaluations will be offered by PSCTC at a rate that is roughly half of what is available via private practitioners. And thanks to the generous support of our donors and sponsors, qualifying LDS families will be eligible for partial to full bursary support to subsidize the cost of the assessment so that we can make it accessible and affordable to all. 


While LDS is facilitating these referrals and will be providing space at our Learning Centre to conduct portions of the assessment that need to be done in person, families will have a direct relationship with UBC PSCTC, will follow their procedures and policies, and will have full ownership of all reports and data generated through the evaluation process.


Everyone at LDS would like to thank the professors, staff and students at UBC’s PSCTC for offering this invaluable opportunity to our families. We cannot wait to help more families access the learning supports they need and deserve! 


How do referrals work? 

LDS families will be referred to the PSCTC; a professor will arrange an initial intake screening call to see if and what degree of evaluation might be most appropriate for each child. If you are interested and have not yet been contacted by us, please reach out to to discuss this opportunity.


More about psycho-educational and neuro-psychological assessments at PSCTC (from )
The PSCTC Assessment Clinics offer psycho-educational assessments and/or consultation for children and youth who have questions about their cognitive, academic, social-emotional, or behavioural strengths and weaknesses in order to provide diagnoses and/or to develop strategies to meet their individual learning needs. Clinicians are interns, senior graduate students, current doctoral students, or recent graduates from the UBC school psychology training program. Interns commonly fulfill this rotation during the summer months. Overall coordination of work in the Clinics is provided by the Professional Practice Leader, working with other doctoral trained, registered psychologists or Certified School Psychologists.


The PSCTC also has a neuropsychological assessment clinic where the emphasis is on neuropsychological evaluation of children and youth to help identify areas of strength and weakness to help with their medical treatment, educational planning, and treatment (such as therapy/counselling or behavioral management). The evaluation will be appropriate for children and youth who are experiencing difficulties with learning, attention, behaviour, or social functioning, difficulty with emotional control, medical or developmental problems that affect the brain, or brain injuries from accidents, medical treatment, or other experiences. The assessment reports will also provide support for children and youth who may have a history of cancer, concussion or traumatic brain injury, epilepsy, ADHD, learning disabilities, Tourette’s Syndrome, and other medical conditions. This assessment clinic will also provide supervised training opportunities for School and Applied Child Psychology doctoral students and is a primary training rotation for doctoral interns in the BC School and Applied Psychology Internship Program. 

Story Adventure Club – register for our 6 week SLP-led program

Story Adventure Club – register for our 6 week SLP-led program


Story telling is an important aspect of language. Story grammar acts as a map to guide comprehension and production of narratives. It also provides a predictable structure for children to process stories efficiently. Each week we will use stories to develop skills in the following areas: 

  • Listening comprehension 
  • Story creation and retelling 
  • Story grammar structure 
  • Vocabulary  
  • Social and emotional reasoning 
  • Phonological awareness 


For existing LDS students 7-9 years old 
Capacity: 4 students 
Dates: November 6 to December 11, 2020 (6 sessions) 
Day and time: Fridays 4-5pm  
Location: East Van Learning Centre  
Cost: $180 for the 6 session series 
Register: email  

Instructor: Lara Kilbertus, Program Designer – SLP 

Lara joined the LDS team as a Program Designer in June 2020. Lara received an M.A. in Linguistics from the University of Ottawa before pursuing a MSc. in Speech-Language Pathology at UBC. As a speech-language pathologist, she is dedicated to improving communication abilities in people of all ages. 

Lara has experience working as part of a multidisciplinary team to provide services for school-aged children with special needs. Her role as an SLP includes helping children and adolescents connect and build relationships by working on social communication skills. She is passionate about delivering quality services that are evidence-informed, compassionate, and fun! 





PEERS Registration Now Open!

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), .


Apply now for RISE TEAM! More Info!