COMPASS stands for the Collaborative Model for Competence and Success and is an alternative framework for improving the quality of services and outcomes for children, youth, and adults with autism spectrum disorder. When we have an effective plan, we have balance. That is, our personal and environmental challenges we experience are supported and outweighed by our personal and environment supports. This is true for all of us. When individuals with ASD have supportive environments, they will experience competence and success.
COMPASS comes from 20 years of work first described in 1996 as the autism competency framework created for adults receiving community-based services, and more recently for children and youth.
What Makes COMPASS Unique? Unlike traditional behavioral consultation, COMPASS targets the pivotal skills underlying ASD (social communication, learning skills) that impact other areas of development. Further, what makes COMPASS different is the focus on quality of life. COMPASS is based on the developmental theory that competency is the result of interactions between individuals and their environments (Ruble & Dalrymple, 1996). If we can carefully examine and identify the contribution that the environment makes toward reducing individual risk factors and enhancing protective factors, we can influence the development of important quality of life skills. Competence looks different across the lifespan and is person-specific.
Unlike most ASD interventions that focus on specific skills, COMPASS is a comprehensive consulting intervention designed to bring together the people with the most frequent interactions with the student – parents, teachers, therapists, etc. – to jointly identify the key social, communication, and independent work/learning skills that have a pivotal impact on other areas of development. For example, a skill such as initiation impacts asking for help, starting a work task, and making social greetings. These pivotal goals must be identified and carefully crafted for the individual student and an evidenced-based intervention plan developed and modified based on the student’s needs, preferences, and strengths.
What does COMPASS Look Like? COMPASS begins with an initial 3-hr joint session using the COMPASS Profile to come to a shared understanding of the child with all team members (parents, teachers, therapists, etc). The COMPASS Profile assesses the child’s/student’s challenges and strengths related to social skills, adaptive/self-management, communication, problem behaviors, learning skills, and sensory avoidances and preferences by bringing together the team to obtain a holistic understanding of the child at home and at school. The COMPASS profile and the discussion that takes place helps pinpoint critical social, communication, and work behavior/learning goals and informs the teaching plans that are generated for each goal. This helps ensure that the right goal is selected for the child and that the child’s intervention is personalized to the child based on his / her strengths, challenges, and preferences. We invite you to build a COMPASS profile for your child or student (under construction).
Following this initial consultation are four teacher coaching sessions lasting about 1-hr each. Each session is standardized and allows for assessment of student goal attainment that is used for evidence-based teacher coaching including performance feedback monitoring and teacher instructional modification / self-reflection on the implementation of the teaching plans. During coaching, teachers and students provide a video or artifact (grades, diaries) to determine progress using psychometric equivalence tested goal attainment scaling (PET-GAS). Supportive problem solving occurs based on the performance feedback and fidelity monitoring.