ESDM therapy in Sydney in Bondi Junction and Mascot

Early start denver model therapy


The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) therapy is a dynamic and groundbreaking intervention for young children with autism. Backed by extensive research, the ESDM has demonstrated significant effectiveness in changing children’s lives for the better.

Evidence-Based and Scientifically Proven

The ESDM therapy employs the best scientific evidence on how young children develop and learn. By reducing the impact of autism, the ESDM facilitates early development and learning. This model incorporates the most proven methods for teaching young children with autism, ensuring that each child receives the highest quality of care.

Play-Based and Integrative Approach

As a play-based approach, the ESDM combines the best elements of various evidence-based programs for young children with autism. We embed the ESDM into every play activity and family routine throughout the day. This integration is crucial because children learn best through their daily activities.

Leading the Way for ESDM Therapy in Sydney

OneOnOne Children’s Therapy was the first private allied health practice to offer the Early Start Denver Model in Sydney. Our Certified ESDM Therapists deliver the ESDM at the highest levels of fidelity. As the largest ESDM clinic in New South Wales, we are committed to achieving the best outcomes for every child we support.

The ESDM therapy uses the best of all the evidence-based programs for young children with autism. It uses play to build skill across all area of development:

  • Receptive Communication
  • Expressive Communication
  • Imitation
  • Joint Attention
  • Social Skills
  • Cognition
  • Fine Motor Skills
  • Gross Motor Skills
  • Personal Independence
  • Behaviour

The Early Start Denver Model is:


The activities and reinforcers that we use in the ESDM are based on normal play and fun activities. Basically, the reinforcers are natural social reinforcers


It reflects the regular developmental pattern for children. However, there is a stronger focus on the areas that children with autism find more challenging

Evidence based teaching principles

The Early Start Denver Model uses the teaching principles of ABA because research shows that these principles are the best way of teaching children with autism. Firstly, we give the child an instruction or entice them into an activity. Next, if we don’t the desired response we carefully prompt them to learn the skill. After that, we gradually fade the prompt so that the child becomes independent in the skill. Consequently, children learn faster and maintain their skills.


The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) therapy approach covers all areas of development


We assess each using the ESDM Curriculum Checklist. A comprehensive list goals and teaching steps are written. The ESDM therapist carefully selects play activities and materials, and then organises the room in such a way that it attracts the child’s attention and facilitates transition from one activity to the next. They target 5-6 goals on every toy or activity that the child selects. All ESDM sessions alternate between floor based social activities, and table top toy based activities. The therapist regulates the child’s alertness and ability to learn. Each therapist keeps detailed records from each session.

Parents are actively involved in choosing their child’s goals. We work with you to ensure that you see progress at home and day care, not just in the clinic.

Each child’s programme is managed by a Certified ESDM therapist. Every therapist in our clinic has a qualification in Speech Pathologist, Psychology or Occupational Therapist.


Generalisation is a key component to the Early Start Denver Model . Children use their skills with a variety of people, in a variety of settings. They learn to use new skills beyond the supportive environment of our clinic rooms.

One of the ways we do this is through the Group ESDM program. Children who attend Individual ESDM sessions may move to the group sessions. These are small groups of up to 4 children. We match children in their developmental abilities so that skills can be generalised to peers, and social communication can thrive.


OneOnOne Children’s Therapy offers an intensive ESDM program. The program runs for 3 hours per day and is available for 5 days a week. This is a group program with a heavy emphasis on participating in all aspects of the group activities and developing skills with peers. As part of the group model, each child has an individual program and the goal is to support each child to achieve their goals. We recommend that children attend a minimum of 2 days in the intensive ESDM program. The research that supports this group ESDM program was completed in Australia at La Trobe University. If you are interested in the intensive program, please contact the clinic as spaces are limited.


Each family has a Key Worker, who is their main contact regarding their child’s individual ESDM program. Our Key Workers are experienced allied health professionals who are certified in the ESDM. In our clinic, they are speech Pathologists, Occupational Therapists and Psychologists.

Your Key Worker meets with you each term to assess your child’s progress and collaboratively establish a new set of goals based on our child’s developing interests, understanding, communication, wellbeing, social skills and your priorities. Your Key Worker monitors your child’s progress and shares this information with you, other members of the team. Additionally, they co-ordinate referrals to other Allied Health specialists.


Each therapist in our clinic is certified (or certifying) in the ESDM by the University of California (UC Davis). This means that they:

  • Complete the Online Introductory Workshop.
  • Complete the 3 day Advanced Training Workshop.
  • Submit assessments, goals and objectives, teaching steps and videos to a certified ESDM Trainer.
  • Once the therapist has submitted the required number of videos and passed the fidelity scores, then they can be certified in the model.

Certification takes approximately 6 months and requires about 100 hours of training. Naturally, all therapists at our clinics complete this intensive level of training. Kristy Capes is our certified ESDM Trainer and she is from La Trove University Melbourne. Kristy is involved in many ongoing ESDM research projects and is the trainer for the group ESDM program. OneOnOne Children’s Therapy has helped thousands of children make huge gains across all developmental areas. We invest in delivering this evidence based model of intervention for young children with autism so that children rise up and reach their potential.

For more information about the ESDM, go to our blog.

key Info


  • Susan Marden
  • Lesley Kanellopoulos
  • Danielle Goodman
  • Christopher Sufani
  • Natalie Macedo
  • Cathy Quigg
  • Carmel Pinshaw
  • Annika Pincham
  • Patricia Velasco
  • Claire Mallett
  • Thomas Lucey
  • Celine Hui
  • Nazrey Aries
  • Carla Young
  • Antonella Masiello
  • Alaia de Ocampo


  • It uses the child’s interest as the choice of activity or toy
  • Positive Affect keeps the child focussed on the play partner, not just the toys
  • Play is the basis for every activity
  • Teaching occurs at a rapid rate
  • Challenging behaviours are managed through a positive behaviour approach
  • Family is involved in the goal selection and family can be trained to deliver the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) at home
  • The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is available for day care and preschool staff so that intensity of learning increases, and goals are generalised to other settings

visit us

BOOK your Visit with us today

Contact us and book a visit the therapist of your choice.

Book Now