PASS Adult Services Society

(Previously PALS Autism)

Vancouver , BC

Adopted by our generous donors

“Music therapy is an integral part of the whole program, and even during Covid times and moving to virtual music therapy, it maintained its central place in our weekly schedule. And as the program returned to onsite service provision, music therapy returned too. The joy and excitement that was generated when we saw [Music Therapist] Michaela with her guitar, smiling a huge welcoming smile, was something special to experience.

Your generosity has given a voice, a wonderful noisy, laughing, full-bodied voice to young people who are rarely heard and often pushed to the sidelines. Music therapy gives everyone the opportunity to take centre stage and shine.”

Karin Terado

Previous Head of Adult Programs

The PASS program has grown to support 32 young adults on the Autism spectrum this year. Prior to the pandemic, many of the students were offsite at their work placements. As many of these employment opportunities were put on hold with Covid-19, there were more students available to participate in music therapy sessions.

In March of 2020, they shifted to an online music therapy program. Most students would zoom in from their home to participate in the session. As the world lifted Covid-19 restrictions, some of the students began returning to PASS in person in cohort groups. They were able to offer music therapy sessions for students participating in the online program and those onsite in groups. 

The groups would range from 2-12 students on any given day. On average, they would have approximately 7 students per group.

These groups focus on:

Social interaction – through experiencing leader/follower activities, greeting/farewell rituals, active group participation and flexibility.

Self expression – song/instrument choice, expressive dance/movement and song writing

Emotional domain – self-awareness/self-concept, self-confidence, self-regulation and impulse control

In person sessions resumed as of August 2021 with all 4.5 hours back on one day. With this, one to one sessions were reintroduced to the few individuals who struggle to regulate in a group setting.


PASS Adult Services Society serves young male and female adults on the Autism spectrum, between ages 19-35. The program is a skill development program that focuses on developing individual goals and abilities in an environment that promotes independence, learning and functional communication. The music therapy program at PASS continues to be an integral part of the program and a highlight of the students’ week.

All of the students at PASS have had an opportunity to join in Music Therapy Sessions (32)

Age Range


The students at PASS find change and unpredictability to be a daily challenge and ongoing struggle. With all the unknowns of Covid-19, the students found online music therapy sessions to be a great support, helping to remain calm and regulated with the extra anxiety caused by the pandemic.

Navigating The Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic

Throughout the pandemic, PASS was able to transition to online music therapy sessions. Music therapy remained a highlight in many of the students’ week, providing the stability and support needed to help the students regulate in a time of so many unknowns. The number of hours of music therapy per week was the same as before the pandemic. 


Your support will help PASS offer an increased number of individual sessions for the students in the program.

With all of the changes during the pandemic, the focus at PASS has been primarily on group sessions, as they have had to adapt to online programming. As some of the students at the PASS program are higher needs, when possible, individual sessions have been extremely helpful in supporting those students that require one on one instruction.

From Music Therapist Michaela at PASS:

“Nicole is a 27 year old that has been involved in the PASS program for several years. She is an energetic, positive and very expressive young woman. She loves to make jokes with her friends and chat about delicious foods. She is in her element when she is able to make jokes about food. She is wonderful at writing poetry. She is very caring and can also be shy in moments. She is highly motivated by verbal praise. She can be distracted easily and can struggle with receiving criticism. She is an absolute light in the program and truly feeds off the energy of others around her. She is continuing to work on her social skills, in addition to becoming a more independent young adult on the spectrum.

Click Here To Watch A Video of Nicole’s Food Song

One of the first days back onsite at the program since the pandemic, there was a lot of nervous energy from the students in the program. One student in particular was having a difficult time self-regulating, which required all of the other students to clear the room and depart from the daily schedule. As Nicole feeds so much from others’ energy, I could see that she was feeling extremely anxious. I spent some time with Nicole and a few other students where I was able to lead the students through a relaxation exercise. Once they were all feeling more calm, we were able to have some fun by choosing some or their favourite songs to sing. Nicole was then very keen to improvise and write a fun song about some of her peers and teachers at the program. Music was able to really support her through the roller coaster of emotions she was experiencing. Through music, Nicole was able to take herself from an anxious, nervous place to one that was very positive and fun.”

Michaela Wallis

Michaela Wallis has been working with the Pals Autism Society in many different roles since 2007. In 2015, Michaela created the Music Therapy program at PASS Adult program. In addition to being a music therapist at PASS, Michaela runs a small private practice where she has been able to support people of all ages, individually and in groups, in a variety of settings. Most recently, Michaela has joined the team of Music Therapists at BC Children’s Hospital working with patients in the Burn Program, as well as in-patients on T6 in cardiology, neurology, orthopaedics, and medical/surgical unit.

You can help us reach more Canadians with the healing power of music. We invite you to give the gift of music to provide hope, strength, relief and encouragement to Canadians in need.

No contribution is too small!