Surrey School District’s ABA Journey (download original)


Surrey School District’s ABA Journey


I am pleased to share a perspective – a bit of a retrospective – of our efforts, struggles and successes in supporting children on the autism spectrum.  When we have achieved strong and sustainable success, it has been the result of a true partnership with parents and an unwavering commitment to do what is best for individual children, all children with needs and all children of promise.  Here is our story from my vantage point.


Surrey School District has held a philosophy that states in part, “personnel are committed to working collaboratively with families, community agencies and school personnel to assist students with diverse needs to reach their academic, social and emotional potential. Parents/guardians are essential to the collaborative process by providing advocacy for their child with unique needs”.


The Surrey School District is demonstrating on a daily basis our commitment to meaningful collaboration with the ABA community.  We have together, made great strides in the supports and services for students with an autism spectrum disorder who are involved in ABA home programs.


In 2006, the Interim ABA Support Worker (ABA SW) job classification was collaboratively developed with input from the ABA community.  An Interim ABA SW is required to have 1000 hours (250 hours focused on discrete trial) of training in home programs under the supervision of an ABA Behaviour Consultant.  In addition, Interim ABA Support Workers are required to complete the ABA SW Certification Program developed and offered through Surrey College.  Upon completion of the ABA SW Program, the interim designation is removed.  This agreement represented a breakthrough and was a significant moment in the development of trust and deep collaboration among home, school and the ABA community and related resources.

As a province, we continue to focus on the primacy of the classroom teacher’s role in creating learning environments, programming, assessment and evaluation of all learners in the public education system.  The district and various provincial agencies are charged with providing the training and professional development required to equip classroom teachers with the necessary understandings and skills to support a diverse range of learners.

In the current school year 2013-2014, Surrey employs approximately 145 ABA SWs.  This represents part of the array of services available to the district’s 806 students on the autism spectrum.  A collaborative model that includes other related special education professionals has been embraced by the district.  These additional professionals include: Speech Language Pathologists, both school based and those specializing in Augmentative and Alternative Communication; School Psychologists; District Behaviour Specialists, Special Education Helping Teachers, Integration Support Teachers;  Special Program teachers; and BASES secondary school teachers, all of whom may play a role in the ongoing assessment, planning, instruction and monitoring of educational programming for our students with autism.  We have recently hired a District Behaviour Specialist who has BCBA credentials in order to continue to refine our practice and support home team – school team collaboration within our ABA community.



At the district level, an ABA District Advisory body was created in 2006 to ensure opportunities to collaborate and communicate effectively with home teams and community based consultants.  This group meets regularly to address both training and implementation issues that arise in the district and within the relationship with home teams.  All parties focus on assuring the highest quality of pre service training for paraprofessionals moving into the school district as our employees.  In all matters related to our relationship with parents and community partners, Surrey School District maintains a focus on the value of meaningful consultation to navigate progress in the complex area of special education services.

2006 was a significant year for Surrey School District in the identification and development of some essential new pathways for engagement with families and for creating and refining supports for students.  The great work that went on in dreaming and the developing new norms serves us well as a foundation from which we continue to grow, to learn and to serve.

Mike McKay

Superintendent of Schools/CEO from 2005 to 2013


14033 – 92 Ave, Surrey, BC  V3V 0B7

T 604.596-7733     www.surreyschools.ca

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