Full Time Staff

Meet our team!

Program Director

Heidi Penrose

Heidi joined PALS in October 2017. She comes from the United States where she was a teacher and school administrator of children with ASD for over 25 + years.  She holds a Masters degree from Purdue University in Special Education severe disabilities with a focus on assistive technology and augmentative communication. She holds a Masters degree in Applied Behaviour Analysis from Trinity College Dublin. She holds certification in TEACCH, Floortime/Greenspan as well as Mediation in Special Education, Picture Exchange Communication, Crisis Prevention Intervention Certification:ASD , First Aid, as well as various other certifications.  She holds teaching licences (Autism Education) for several U.S. states.   Heidi joins Emilly Furey (BCBA)  and Katie Franz (BCBA), in developing and facilitating Behaviour Support Plans to increase children’s functional behaviour and participation in the school day as well as facilitating home supports. She consults with Monika Ciemniewska and the Educational team to ensure each child’s individual program is running smoothly and effectively.  Heidi conducts in house training for both staff and parents to ensure consistency across a child's life. She oversees all that happens at PALS Preschool. Recently, Heidi, along with Dr. Laura Gormley had their research “Training behavioural therapists in presession pairing skills to evaluate the impact on children’s life skill acquisition rates”  published in the International Journal of Developmental Disabilities. 

Callsign: Snappy

Education Specialist 

Monika Ciemniewska

Monika graduated in Poland with an MA in Psychology, specialising in clinical psychology. She has been working with children with special needs and Autism for the past 15+ years. Monika along with Heidi and Dr. Laura Gormley have collaborated to create PALS assessment and curriculum. Monika oversees all curriculum and educational decisions for PALS and ensures that each child’s educational programs are tailored to their individual needs. Monika oversees all staff trainings and ensures that each staff member is proficient in the methodologies used at PALS.  She, (along with her educational team), stays current with latest evidence based research and uses this information to make informed decisions regarding the educational direction of the school. She is certified in Paediatric first aid and in Child Protection. Monika is the assistant Child Protection Officer in PALS. As Education Specialist, Monika ensures that the children's lesson plans are being run correctly and that each child is moving on at an appropriate speed for them. Monika is currently undergoing a professional diploma in Mindfulness (MBSR/MBCT) and intends to use this to help create PALS emotional regulation program. 

Callsign: Mommy Cat

Assistant Manager and Community Liaison

Amanda Doherty

Amanda joined PALS in November 2011 and has been working with autistic children for over 10+ years. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Maynooth University and holds her Masters in Psychology (Applied Behaviour Analysis) from Trinity College Dublin. From her masters degree, Amanda has specialised in the use of Picture Exchange Communication (PECS) amongst peers. Amanda has also completed training in First aid and training in assistive technologies such as Grid.


Along with Heidi, Amanda is a point of contact for new school admissions and queries about university student internships. Amanda joins the management team and classroom teachers in the development of Individual Education Plans (IEPS) for the students of PALS Preschool. Amanda also conducts in house training for the staff of PALS Preschool.  Amanda is here Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Behaviour Specialist 

Emily Furey

Emily joined the PALS team in November 2021. She has been working with autistic children for the past 6 years. Emily has an Arts degree in English and Linguistics from University College Dublin and holds her Masters in Applied Behaviour Analysis from Queen University. Emily is a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA) since 2021. Emily joins Heidi Penrose and Dr. Laura Gormley in developing and facilitating Behaviour Support plans to increase children's appropriate behaviour and participation in the school day. From her masters degree, Emily has a keen interest in the development of play programs. Emily and Katie form the behaviour support team. Emily has training in first aid and completed training in communication systems such as Grid and PECS. Emily joins the management team in the development of Individual Education Plans (IEPS) for the students of PALS Preschool. 


Laura Conroy

The true heartbeat of PALS

Introducing Laura, an invaluable member of the PALS team since 2019. With her exceptional dedication and expertise, she has played a pivotal role in establishing our Hampton Wood location and ensuring the smooth day-to-day operations of our school. Laura's friendly and approachable nature makes her the first point of contact for parents and guardians, providing them with the support they need. Her unwavering commitment and willingness to assist are truly indispensable, as PALS simply could not thrive without her invaluable contributions.

Callsign: Dragon

Education Assistant

Laura Ennis

Laura joined the PALS team in September 2021. Laura has BA in Psychology, and an M.Sc. in Applied Behaviour Analysis from Queens University Belfast. Laura has over four years experience working with children with ASD and/or global developmental delays from the ages of 3 to 11. 

Play Therapist

Alice Byrne

Alice is a key member of the PALS family. She joined us in December 2020, bringing a wealth of experience and expertise in working with children with autism. Alice is the driving force behind our engaging playgroups, where she guides students in acquiring new play skills through specially curated sessions. Notably, Alice holds a Master of Science degree in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education from the Marino Institute of Education. With a genuine passion for supporting children with autism, Alice's 5-year journey includes invaluable experience in both one-on-one and group settings. In addition, she has spent two years teaching in early years group environments. Her warm and dedicated approach ensures that our students thrive under her guidance.

Callsign: Slug

Technology Officer 💾

Alex Flood

Alex came on board with PALS in 2018 via the INTRA internship initiative at Dublin City University (DCU), transitioning to a full-time role by the end of 2020. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from DCU, with a notable thesis on "Learning About the Brain Using Immersive Virtual Reality". As PALS Preschool's dedicated Technology Officer, Alex is responsible for managing an array of tech-based functions. These include the oversight of augmentative and alternative communication tools, the technology within our sensory rooms, our digital presence and websites, implementation of digital data gathering / processing techniques, and ensuring the efficacy of our security and access control systems.

Educational Support Assistant

Rachel Treacy

Rachel first came to PALS during her university internship in 2018. She then became a full time staff member in July 2020. Rachel has a B.Sc. in Education Studies from Marino. Rachel has recently completed training in TEACCH and Grid (assistive technology). She currently works as our classroom teacher overseeing the day to day running of the classroom. She also serves the role of speech and language liaison. 

Classroom Teacher 

Racheal Conroy

Racheal joined PALS in October 2019. She experience working with children with autism both in a 1:1 and group setting. Racheal has three years experience working with children with autism. Racheal has a B.Sc. in education and training from Dublin City University. Racheal is currently undertaking a Masters in Early Intervention in Trinity College Dublin. She currently works as our classroom teacher overseeing the day to day running of the classroom. She also serves the role of speech and language liaison.

Class Tutor

Katie Sullivan Smyth

Katie Sullivan Smyth joined PALS as a Tutor in August 2022. She holds a Single Hons BA in English Studies from Trinity College Dublin and a M.Phil in Children's Literature from TCD 2020. Prior to joining PALS, Katie has 4 years of experience working with Dyspraxia Ireland as a volunteer running in-person and online social clubs for children with learning differences. She also has one year of experience working in an ABA preschool setting. She is also a member of Children’s Books Ireland, working either at their book clinics for children or writing reviews of children’s and YA books for their book review publications (Inis Magazine / CBI Reading Guide).

Class Tutor

Taiane Vieira da Silva

Taiane is a highly qualified educator with a Bachelor's degree in Pedagogy and Early Years, Elementary School, Didactics, Psychology and Philosophy of Education. She has also completed two specialized courses in Education, one in Psychopedagogy which focuses on identifying learning difficulties and improving the learning experience through psychotherapeutic interventions and activities that cater to individual needs, and another in Special Education.

Her professional qualifications include a level 9 certification from the National Board of Qualifications of Ireland (NFQ), and registration with the Teaching Council. With over 15 years of experience, she has worked extensively in Early Childhood Education, developing and planning pedagogical activities for young children.

Taiane has also worked with children with special needs, particularly those with learning disabilities and autism. She has been responsible for organizing and developing pedagogical activities that engage families and the community in collaborative school projects. Her expertise in education and her experience in working with diverse groups of children make her a valuable asset to any educational institution.