The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is a comprehensive behavioral early intervention approach for children on the autism spectrum, ages 12 to 48 months. The program includes a developmental curriculum that defines the core list of skills to be taught at any given time and a set of teaching procedures used to effectively deliver the necessary content. It is not tied to a specific delivery setting (eg. a classroom or doctor’s office), but can be administered by therapy teams (along with parents) in group programs or individual therapy sessions in a professional clinic or at home.
The ESDM early intervention program integrates a relationship-focused developmental model incorporating the teachings of Applied Behavior Analysis(or ABA). The core features of the ESDM include:
• Naturalistic applied behavioral analysis
• Shared engagement with joint activities to promote social integration
• Focus on interpersonal exchanges
• Deep parental involvement
• Teaching language and communication in a positive, affect-based relationship
Who benefits from ESDM?
The Early Start Denver Model is the sole early intervention model that has been validated in a randomized clinical trial and approved for use with children with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) across a large range of abilities and learning styles.
A trial published in the journal Pediatrics demonstrated that children who received ESDM therapy for 20 hours a week (which included a breakdown of 15 hours by trained therapists mixed with 5 hours by parents) over a span of 2-years showed greater improvement in cognitive and language abilities as well as adaptive behavior with fewer autism symptoms than did children referred for intervention therapy commonly available in their communities.
Who is qualified to provide ESDM?
An ESDM therapist may be anoccupational therapist, a psychologist, a speech and language pathologist, a behaviorist, an early intervention specialist, or a developmental pediatrician. The important thing is that they have ESDM training and the proper certification.
If you live in the Greater Toronto Area and would like to find a clinic specializing in ESDM intervention, consider Simone Friedman SLS, a Toronto speech therapy clinic offering a very popular S.T.A.R. program. The Social Trans-disciplinary Autism Routine runs 4 days per week for ages 18 months through to Senior Kindergarten.
Included in the STAR Programming:
• 1 hour of 1:1 ABA therapy with an Instructor Therapistper STAR session
• 3 hours of ABA therapy addressing each child’s individual ESDM goals within a comfortable, social setting
• All Materials
• Personal Independence (General, Toileting, Hygiene, Chores)
• Outdoor Play
• Targeting of many ESDM Goals including Receptive Communication, Expressive Communication, Social Skills, Cognition, Fine and Gross Motor, and more.
The “S.T.A.R. School” offers a full day, evidence-based program run at the downtown Toronto clinic every day, from Tuesday to Friday.The program is led by an ESDM trained Senior Speech-Language Pathologist with 15 years of Paediatric Speech Therapy experience, with support from an Occupational Therapist, an ABA specialist as well as a Communicative Disorders Assistant. If you’d like to learn more, find Simone Friedman SLS online today.
Michael Sanduso lives in Toronto, Canada. He is a freelance writer and editor, tech geek, and stay at home father.