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Visions Journal

The Pacific Autism Family Network Foundation

Services for people in BC with autism spectrum disorder

Kyle Nguyen*

Reprinted from the The Many Faces of Neurodiversity issue of Visions Journal, 2023, 18 (3), pp. 23-25

Stock photo of man against an urban backdrop

The Pacific Autism Family Network (PAFN) is a centre of excellence and network of support for individuals in BC with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families. We began operations in 2014, and in 2016 opened a new, 60,000–square foot centre in Richmond.

The centre is a first in person-centric design, the result of collaboration by community, professional, governmental and individual stakeholders. It is designed to be as welcoming as possible and includes extensive soundproofing, mechanical considerations and wayfinding/colourways, such as oversized natural decals, key colour patterns for anchoring and recognition, and numerous other features. With the centre acting as our provincial hub, the PAFN is committed to being a one-stop shop for individuals, families and service providers. We are also actively partnering with communities across the province to create “spoke” locations. Our spoke offices in Prince George, Kelowna and Chilliwack allow families remote access to primary services located at the Richmond hub and serve as deployment locations for additional services. The PAFN also collaborates with other organizations across BC.

We deliver a wide array of programs principally centred around a lifespan model. That means we provide and collaborate with services for all ages, with the goal of serving all individuals at all stages of life. Roughly 160 people access services every day through our hub, spokes and virtual resources.

Some of our programs include:

AIDE Canada

The Autism and/or Intellectual Disability Knowledge Exchange Network (AIDE Canada) is a partner network of 15 organizations across Canada that develops and vets lists of local programs and resources. This network connects members of our community to the information and resources they need. Unbiased and accessible, AIDE provides credible, reliable and evidence-informed resources through the creation of locally relevant content that speaks to the needs of community members living in different regions across Canada, including hosting webinars and online events.

People can visit AIDE Canada in person to find the resources they need. They also have a live chat feature on their website, and their services are offered in both official languages. To learn more, visit
Autism Integrated Medical Services (AIMS)

Through our collaboration with the ABLE Clinic (a private, multidisciplinary clinic located in the main PAFN hub), we have created AIMS to provide integrated, multidisciplinary medical and allied health services for assessment and treatment of people with autism spectrum and/or related neurodevelopmental disorders. Services include:

  • medical genetic consultations
  • developmental pediatrician consultations
  • general pediatric consultations
  • specialized clinics (e.g., The Self-Injurious Behaviours Clinic)
  • dental consultations (coming soon)

Jobs Education and Training (JET)

JET is an innovative project aimed to support young adults with disabilities aged 19 years and older. JET is for individuals who are no longer eligible for school, but who still need to acquire skills in areas that can open up opportunities for meaningful participation, vocation and interaction in the community. Individuals work through module-based programming that centres on individualized goals supported by Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) standards and other behavioural guidance.

Little Pilots Inclusive Preschool

Little Pilots welcomes preschool-aged learners, including those on the spectrum and their typically developing classmates. By maintaining higher staff ratios than those seen in typical preschools, and having behavioural consultants on hand when needed to provide individualized, specific instruction to learners, Little Pilots sets up all learners on their optimal pathway to success. The preschool was designed from the ground up with the same consideration applied to the PAFN Richmond hub for individuals with high sensory or other diverse needs.

Employment Works

Employment Works is a 12-week program that offers employment preparedness training and support to autistic adults and persons with disabilities. The program is designed for individuals who want to enter or return to the workforce, and who are willing to develop and practice the skills needed to support employment success. Employment Works focuses on three main themes:

  • knowing yourself as a working person – e.g., strengths and interests, having a plan of action
  • engaging in the culture of employment – e.g., learning about what bosses want, how to overcome challenges
  • building skills for employment – e.g., how to network, social thinking skills

GO Group

GO Group is a multi-venture social enterprise that offers temporary supportive employment opportunities within the PAFN’s hub. This program focuses on youth and young adults who want to, and are realistically able to, work in the food, custodial, landscaping and partner industries. The group aims to improve employment equity by hiring youth and young adults and training them for jobs in the community by building vocational skills and providing real work experiences.

The PAFN is a community beacon for individuals and families receiving services at its hub and spoke locations. By providing access to respite and social programming across the lifespan, the PAFN fills the gap between traditional clinical service providers and social inclusion. Alongside standard programming, the PAFN also hosts community events where people can visit PAFN locations and enjoy holiday and themed activities in an inclusive environment.

If you think our services can help you or someone you care about, reach out by email, at [email protected], by phone, at 604-207-1980, or by visiting our website at If you would like to learn more about ASD, AIDE Canada has the most up-to-date information, at:

Related Resources

Innovating for Autism Care: DWELL Stack

The PAFN has partnered with Amazon and the UBC Cloud Innovation Centre to develop and test an app that monitors biometric data alongside behavioural data to predict individual outcomes. These outcomes will be personalized based on individual requirements, with specific consideration for epilepsy, sleep disorders or other challenges.

By using models that compare data, PAFN and Amazon Web Services hope to drive the future of autism care for individuals, families and caregivers. This information will be especially relevant for individuals who are low- or non-verbal and who may struggle to effectively communicate medical challenges.

While the DWELL Stack project is still in its earliest stages, the PAFN is excited by this collaboration in the name of improving outcomes for everyone with autism spectrum disorder.

About the author

Kyle Nguyen is Director of Operations and IT for the Pacific Autism Family Network Foundation. He has been with the PAFN since 2018, supporting key projects across all areas of PAFN operations
* On behalf of the Pacific Autism Family Network (PAFN) board of directors

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