Catching Up with Hallie, a RISE TEAM Graduate

Catching Up with Hallie, a RISE TEAM Graduate

It’s been three months since Hallie, a 16-year-old high-school student from Fawkes Academy in Burnaby, was last at our East Vancouver Learning Centre, and a lot has happened since then. She is one of two RISE TEAM participants who, after having volunteered as junior leaders, were offered employment as Learning Centre Assistants last Fall. Hallie additionally had the opportunity to be part of the Early RISErs team from January to June as a Program Assistant. Working between 5-15 hours a week, she greeted visitors, answered phones, helped to create learning materials, prepared and cleaned up after snack time, and interacted with preschool-aged children and their families. She not only honed her professional skills (e.g., answering the phone professionally and learning to use a timesheet for the first time) but also worked on her interpersonal and social media skills.  

Building confidence was another key skill Hallie developed during her paid employment opportunity at LDS. This was evident in Hallie’s ability to share her experience with United Way staff members during a visit to LDS. Hallie’s ability to share her challenges and growth in terms of professional and personal development was an integral part of LDS receiving further funding for the RISE TEAM program. Since graduating from the program, she was able to secure more part-time employment and put all her newfound knowledge and experience to good use.  

“I worked at Playland in the summer, at the concession. They asked me if I could be a grill cook, so I did that, too,” Hallie explained, adding that she’d be back there for Fright Nights, Playland’s Halloween-themed experience.   

“I also took the babysitting course. I felt a little nervous at first because I was the oldest one there, but I got a score of 97.9% at the end of it.”  

It turned out that what she’d learned during the RISE TEAM program and EARLY RISErs work had translated well to babysitting and she was able to help look after a boy that her family knew very well—they carpooled together—and his younger sister, too. Despite some early reservations about the high level of responsibility that would come with the job, as an Autistic teen with ADHD and learning differences, she was able to interact well and care for the neurotypical children and give their mother some valuable support.  

Now a grade 12 student, Hallie is facing the challenges that come with that senior year and is determined to stay focused and keep working hard, traits that she partially attributes to being a Capricorn. To balance off the demands of school, she enjoys going to church every Saturday with her family and has a few hobbies, including baking and cooking, crossword puzzles, and, most of all, music and concertgoing. And she manages to find opportunities to learn and grow in everything that she does. Her latest task is: Get better at persuasive writing, not only to acquire a new skill but also to convince her father to let her attend yet another concert this year.   


The RISE TEAM program combines LDS Research-informed Individualized Student Education (RISE) with additional Training to advance their Employability, Abilities, or support Matriculation (TEAM). Thisinnovative employment readiness projectisdesigned to help teens with learning differences transition from high school to paid employment, training, or higher education. 

Thanks to generous donor funding from the United Way, LDS has spaces for students in grades 10 to 12 to complete the RISE TEAM program this school year. This includes paid work experience at LDS. 

To learn more about RISE TEAM, click here. You can also call us at 604.873.8139 or email 


















LDS presents recent research at the 14th International Development Coordination Disorder (DCD) Conference

LDS presents recent research at the 14th International Development Coordination Disorder (DCD) Conference

We are pleased to be attending and presenting our recent research at the 14th International DCD Conference, hosted by University of British Columbia’s Department of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy from July 6-9, 2022. Our Director of Education, Dr. Jenn Fane, will share with attendees the aim, details, and successes of our interdisciplinary early intervention program, Early RISErs, for children aged 3-5. 

We would like to thank our Speech Language Pathologist, Penelope Bacsfalvi; Assistive Technology Manager, Mike Gray; Marlo Humiksi, instructor; and the University of Waterloo’s Social and Intelligent Robotics Research Laboratory for their support in integrating our socially assistive robots into our Early RISErs programming. We sincerely appreciate and value their continuous contributions to this program. 

Some excerpts from our research poster presentation are provided below.



Interdisciplinary early intervention programming offers comprehensive supports and targeted referrals for young children and their families which help them to navigate the complexity of childhood health and education systems. 


Young children with developmental disabilities, such as Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), Developmental Language Disorders (DLD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder (ADHD), face significant barriers to participation in early years opportunities due to their unique challenges and needs. These barriers make it difficult for parents of young children to access the programming and professionals their children need to support their development.  


To bridge this gap, we have piloted an early years parent-participation preschool-aged program that brings together Early Years Researchers, Speech Language Pathologists (SLP), Occupational Therapists (OT), Behavioural Interventionists (BI), Early Childhood Educators (ECE) and Kindergarten Teachers to create an inclusive program where children work with a range of professionals each week.  

The program focuses on key areas important for young children’s development including speech and language, social skill development, and gross and fine motor skill development, early literacy and numeracy, and self-regulation.  


The program pilot has served dozens of young children and their families since autumn 2021 with a wide range of developmental disabilities, offering parents opportunities to connect, consult with, and be supported by early years professionals working with their children in an inclusive group setting. Through their participation in the program, parents gain a deeper understanding of their child’s strengths and stretches, and strategies that support their participation and integration into group educational settings.  

Relevance to “DCD in the Real World”  

Feedback from parents and other service providers suggests that integrating DCD focused screening and support into an interdisciplinary early intervention program is addressing a significant area of need for parents with young children with developmental disabilities who face barriers to participating in programs and services that meet their needs. 

Program Details 

LDS Early RISErs brings together Speech-Language Pathologists, Kindergarten teachers, Early Childhood Educators, Behavioural Interventionists, and Occupational Therapists to offer families a unique technology-embracing program that provides assessments, skill learning, parent networking and strategies to overcome children’s challenges by leveraging strengths. Early RISErs is an early childhood education and intervention program with parent/guardian participation that focuses on equipping families with knowledge about their young child and their learning and development to date. 

The program, designed and facilitated by early childhood experts, focuses on key areas of learning and development including early literacy, early numeracy, speech language acquisition, social and emotional learning, and physical literacy to give families a detailed snapshot of their child’s learning and development to date, and engage young children in hands-on learning opportunities carefully scaffolded to individual child’s needs. 


You can find the link to our full poster presentation here.










Inclusive Language Toolkit from Stigma-Free Society

Inclusive Language Toolkit from Stigma-Free Society

We are very proud to have worked with the Stigma Free Society to contribute to a fantastic resource, the Stigma-Free Glossary. It provides a comprehensive understanding of the types of language to use when referring to an individual from a specific community or identity category. It provides a wide variety of definitions and terms to educate readers about inclusive language. At LDS, we continuously work on ways to be more inclusive and welcoming; the Stigma-Free Glossary is a great tool that enables us to practice this and help others practice this on a day-to-day basis.  
As SFS acknowledges in their materials, not all terms are universally preferred by everyone within a community and we urge you to always ask what terms people prefer and be open to learning about their preference. Self-determination is key for inclusion to advance. 
To learn more about how to use more inclusive language, check out the Stigma-Free Glossary here

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