PALS – Personal and Life Skills Programme

The PALS Programme has been designed and operated by the Shine Centre for the past four years. This programme, the first of it’s kind, places equal emphasis on personal and emotional self management skills, self esteem and social skill development. It directly addresses the barriers to social skill advancement through individualised child centred lessons, and constantly feeds back information and lesson plans to parents.

The PALS Programme is open to children between the ages of 11 and 14, with a diagnosis of High Functioning Autism (HFA) or Asperger’s Syndrome, attending a mainstream school. The Programme operates over an 18 month period, with the first section running from January to June. Following a 6 month break, another section will run from January to June in the next year. A maximum of 6 places are available in each programme, with one programme open each year.

Parent involvement is paramount, and all skills covered are sent home with the child, with practical work to be completed before the next session, in the child’s own natural environment. We welcome parent feedback, and our Co -ordinator, Laura Crowley, is available to advise and answer parent queries whenever they may arise.
For further information, or to place your child on the PALS waitlist, please contact Laura Crowley in the Shine Centre on 021-4377052 or alternatively email
Please be advised, the waitlist for this programme can be quite lengthy, and places are awarded on a first come first served basis.

About the PALS Programme:

PALS (Personal & Life Skills Programme) is a ground breaking programme aimed at children and adolescents with a diagnosis of High Functioning Autism and Asperger Syndrome. The PALS programme has been developed by the Shine Centre’s Building Blocks team to address the issue of social disconnect for our children as they enter adolescents and beyond. The programme also works on the areas of self esteem and anxiety. The aim of this programme is to equip the children and adolescents who attend PALS with the social skills and life skills they so desperately need to enable them to play a full part in their peer groups and communities.

As they get older, many children with High Functioning Autism and Asperger Syndrome are forced to the margins of their peer groups due to the social skills deficits that are an inherent part of their diagnosis. Most of these children and adolescents desperately want to form friendships and relationships but are simply unable to do so due to the absence of the social skills that they require to operate in social situations. This inability to operate in a social environment may lead to increased anxiety, bullying, leaving school early, exclusion or self imposed exclusion from peer groups or in extreme cases self harm. Self esteem plays a vital role in this cycle and can impede a child from even trying to include themselves in the wider community. Many children with HFA and Asperger Syndrome can operate successfully in social situations if they understand the social norms associated with that situation. For example if the social situation is casual they need to be able to recognise that and then rely on their learned skills in that situation to interact appropriately with others.

The PALS programme incorporating the following elements:

1. Self Esteem
2. Management of Emotions
3. Pragmatics
4. Social Skills Development
5. Friendships
6. Life Skills
7. Anxiety
8. Emotional Recognition

The PALS programme targets the key areas of social development with social skills and self esteem building at the centre of the project. This structured programme addresses many of these deficits early in their development and in a step by step process equips our children with the skills they need to operate effectively in a social environment. These skills will also improve the outcomes in both their family and educational settings. The PALS programme feeds positively into the child’s ability to cope and self manage in social situations that would have previously caused stress and anxiety and result in the child opting out. The long term outcome of the PALS programme is to equip these children and adolescents with the foundation skills they will need to operate independently in day to day situations and in the general community.



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