Valdosta Daily Times


March 16, 2014

Compass works to find a way for autistic children

VALDOSTA — Compass Behavioral and Developmental Consultants started slowly and then all at once.

Its six founders — Allen Davis, Rod Smith, Amila Smith, Peter Del Rosario, Jenelle Ray and Paran Davis — all knew each other and had worked with each other in the past.

Individually, they had considered opening a company that worked with children on the autistic spectrum and their parents.

When they all got to talking, they discovered they shared a similar vision: Number one, the child always comes first. Number two, always be analytical, follow the data and extend services to adults. Number three, raise the reputation and increase the knowledge of the citizens of Georgia as to what applied behavior analysis is.

While on the front porch of Joe’s Crab Shack, they developed the name, and from there it all came together fast.

“We’re all from different walks of life, different backgrounds,” said Ray. “That’s what makes us so strong. We’ll all bring something completely different to the table.”

Ray comes from a psychology background, with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s in progress; Del Rosario is a board certified associate behavioral analyst. Paran has a master’s in science focusing on human behavior; her husband, Allen, has a business background.

Rod is a retired airman; his wife, Amila, has a psychology and paralegal background; together, they are raising son Jory, who is 7 and on the autistic spectrum. He’s non-verbal, but he’s made a lot of strides.

Compass opened in August and started taking its first clients in September.

“Our whole goal is to get these kids help, to help these families out and let them know what options are available,” said Allen Davis.

Here’s how it works: After receiving a diagnosis from a doctor, clients bring a child to Compass, and a behavioral analyst does an assessment, talking with the parent, finding out what results they want, the history of the child and the family, getting an overall view of what the situation is and what the concerns are.

From there, they develop a plan for what needs to be done. Family sits down with a supervisor and one of Compass’ trained behavioral technicians to discuss their goals, which can be as simple as getting a child to hold a parent’s or caregiver’s hand.

“That can seem like a small thing, but when you think about it, if you’re at a park and your child won’t hold your hand, he’s a runner and there’s a four-lane highway next to it ... getting a child to hold a parent’s or caregiver’s hand could be something that saves their lives,” said Allen.

The techs and analysts work with the kids in their homes. It’s a setting where the kids are comfortable, and it allows the analysts to watch them in the home environment.

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