The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM)

“Thank you Janet and Michaela, for providing an excellent ESDM Advanced workshop for our group. The whole workshop was very inspiring, helped us to shape our therapy skills and dig deep into ESDM way of thinking. With every session I felt how my practical skills were improving, being able to notice smallest details of communication, targeting the selected goals and reflecting on my own work. You were very supportive and taking into account our individual needs. I would definitely love to attend other trainings from the two of you.”

Tini Avsajanishvili, Speech-Language Pathologist

What Is the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM)?

The Early Start Denver Model (or ESDM) was developed by Dr. Sally Rogers and Dr. Geraldine Dawson. ESDM is a relationship-based early intervention model created to work with very young children with, or showing signs of, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The ESDM uses a data based approach rooted in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) learning theory while also using naturalistic and and play-based teaching. The ESDM is both a behavioural and a relationship-based intervention model that is rooted in child development. When implemented efficaciously, the model is individualized to each child while still maintaining a standard manner of assessing, goal writing, and providing 1-1 intervention.

At its best, the ESDM creates learning opportunities within play-based routines that are fun! It is an early intervention, routine-based model in which trained therapists merge behavioural teaching strategies within child-led, relationship-based, activities and routines.  The rigour involved in becoming an ESDM certified therapist helps ensure that those who have received adequate training in the model are practicing in an appropriate manner that is true to the evidence-based model. To ensure the model is being implemented as detailed in the training manual The Early Start Denver Model for Young Children with Autism: Promoting Language, Learning, and Engagement, it is important to be certain that those who state that they have skills in the ESDM have undergone all of the steps required in the ESDM certification process.

ESDM has research evidence supporting its effectiveness with young children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder. Much of this information is documented through many peer-reviewed research publications.

Naturalistic Developmental Behavioural Interventions or NDBI is a term which is used to describe interventions that have sound scientific evidence to support their effectiveness with young children with ASD. These types of scientifically validated early interventions use behaviourally-based strategies to teach developmental skills based on the typical developmental trajectories of young children. The Early Start Denver Model is one such NDBI.