ESDM Therapy and Cognitive Skills

By July 5, 2024 ESDM
Child learning cognitive skills with certified ESDM therapist in Bondi Junction, Sydney, Randwick

Enhancing Cognitive Skills with the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM)

Cognitive skills are the building blocks of a child’s learning and development, encompassing abilities such as attention, memory, problem-solving, and understanding. For children with autism, these skills can be particularly challenging to develop. The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is an evidence-based early intervention approach designed to enhance cognitive skills in young children with autism. At OneOnOne Children’s Therapy, we are proud to offer ESDM to support the cognitive development of children and help them reach their full potential.

What is the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM)?

The ESDM is a comprehensive early intervention program tailored for children aged 12-48 months who are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Developed by Dr. Sally Rogers and Dr. Geraldine Dawson, the ESDM combines principles from applied behaviour analysis (ABA) with developmental and relationship-based approaches to create a naturalistic and play-based therapeutic environment. The primary goal of ESDM is to improve the key features of autism, including social communication, language, and cognitive skills, through engaging and interactive sessions.

Understanding Cognitive Skills

Cognitive skills refer to the mental processes that enable children to process information, think critically, and learn from their experiences. These skills include:

  • Attention: The ability to focus on a task or activity for a sustained period.
  • Memory: The capacity to store and recall information.
  • Problem-Solving: The ability to find solutions to challenges and obstacles.
  • Understanding: The ability to comprehend concepts and follow instructions.

The Role of ESDM in Enhancing Cognitive Skills

The ESDM is designed to target and enhance cognitive skills through structured play and interactive activities. Here’s how the ESDM supports cognitive development:

  1. Individualised Learning Plans

Each child in the ESDM program receives an individualised learning plan based on their unique strengths and needs. This personalized approach ensures that cognitive goals are tailored to each child, addressing specific areas of difficulty and promoting overall development.

  1. Play-Based Learning

Play is a natural and motivating way for children to learn. In the ESDM, therapists use play-based activities to teach cognitive skills in a fun and engaging manner. Through play, children learn to focus, solve problems, and understand new concepts without feeling pressured or overwhelmed.

  1. Building Attention Skills

Attention is a foundational cognitive skill that affects all areas of learning. ESDM therapists use techniques to improve a child’s ability to focus and maintain attention during activities. This includes using engaging materials, providing clear and consistent instructions, and gradually increasing the duration of tasks to build sustained attention.

  1. Enhancing Memory

Memory skills are crucial for learning and retaining new information. The ESDM incorporates activities that strengthen both short-term and long-term memory. Repetition, visual supports, and consistent routines help children remember and recall information more effectively.

  1. Developing Problem-Solving Abilities

Problem-solving is an essential cognitive skill that enables children to navigate challenges and find solutions. ESDM therapists create scenarios that encourage children to think critically and experiment with different approaches. This might include puzzles, sorting games, and role-playing activities that require children to use reasoning and logic.

  1. Promoting Understanding and Comprehension

Understanding and following instructions are key cognitive skills for academic and social success. The ESDM focuses on helping children comprehend and respond to verbal and non-verbal cues. Therapists use simple language, visual aids, and hands-on demonstrations to enhance understanding.

Success Stories: ESDM and Cognitive Development

Case Study: Emily’s Progress

Emily, a 3-year-old girl diagnosed with autism, struggled with attention and memory. Her parents enrolled her in the ESDM program at OneOnOne Children’s Therapy. Over several months, Emily’s therapists targeted her cognitive skills using play-based activities. They incorporated games that required sustained attention, memory recall, and problem-solving.

Emily improved remarkably through consistent and engaging therapy sessions. She focused better on tasks, remembered routines, and solved simple puzzles more effectively. Her parents noticed a significant change in her ability to follow instructions and understand new concepts. Emily’s progress demonstrates the effectiveness of the ESDM in enhancing cognitive skills in young children with autism.

The Importance of Early Intervention

Early intervention is critical for children with autism. Research shows that the earlier a child receives support, the better their outcomes in cognitive, social, and language development. The ESDM is particularly effective because it starts at a young age, capitalising on the brain’s plasticity and ability to form new neural connections. By addressing cognitive skills early, children are better prepared for academic and social challenges in the future.

How to Get Started with the ESDM

If you’re interested in the ESDM for your child, the first step is to schedule an assessment with a certified ESDM therapist. During the assessment, the therapist will evaluate your child’s strengths and areas for improvement, and develop an individualised learning plan tailored to their needs.

At OneOnOne Children’s Therapy, our team of certified ESDM therapists is dedicated to providing high-quality, evidence-based intervention to support your child’s cognitive development. We are Sydney’s largest ESDM clinic. We offer a nurturing and engaging environment where children can thrive and reach their full potential.

Contact Us

To learn more about the ESDM and how it can help your child, please contact us at OneOnOne Children’s Therapy. We are here to support you and your family on this journey.

Call us at (02) 80657837
Email us to book a consultation

Together, we can help your child develop the cognitive skills they need to succeed and thrive in all areas of their life.