“It allows you to see how the parents are going in and out, how the child is reacting to things,” said Paran.
It starts with the tech and the child building a rapport, getting to know each other. From there, the tech works to extinguish maladaptive behaviors and/or to develop the behavior and skills.
“We take a behavior that’s incongruent with living a full social life. And we take something that the child loves, a preferred item,” said Allen. “Then we request the behavior and supply the preferred item.”
Building and changing behaviors in autistic children can be a long process, something that slowly builds over time.
Along with working with kids to build and change behaviors, Compass educates parents and educators about autism and the kids affected by it.
To accomplish this, Compass opens its technicians’ training classes to parents and teachers, allowing them to get the same training for free.
The class spans more than a two-week period and is open to all parents and educators, not just to clients.
“We have parents who come and they learn what to do and make progress in their homes all by themselves,” said Davis.
“If they say, ‘I can’t afford the services, but I want to learn and help my child,’ that service is always going to be open for them, no matter what,” said Amila.
Far from being wary of competition, Compass wants to see more businesses in the field, going so far as to offer consulting services for companies wanting to get into the ABA field.
“My personal goal as a parent is that one day in this area, I’ll be able to pick up the phone and besides us, they’ll be 20 providers of choice.”
“There’s no way we’re going to be able to raise the standards of the field in the state if we don’t open up competition,” said Allen.
Though the central office is in Valdosta, Compass does have behavioral analysts and behavioral technicians in Macon, Warner Robbins and Jacksonville, Fla.
The Center for Disease Control’s most recent data on autism shows that, on average, one out of 110 kids are somewhere on the autism spectrum.
“We don’t know what it is, but they’re here,” said Amila. “They’re going to become adults and we’re going to have to get ready for that.”