Early start denver model
The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is a model of intervention for young children with autism. It is a ground breaking intervention for a number of reasons.
The ESDM is based on scientific evidence about how young children develop and learn. It works to reduce the impact that autism has on early development and learning. Importantly, the ESDM uses the most proven ways to teach young children with autism.
The ESDM is a play based approach that fuses the best of all the evidence-based programs for young children with autism. Our goal is to embed the ESDM into every play activity and family routine across the whole day. When we do this, children learn across their daily activities.
OneOnOne Children’s Therapy was the first private allied health practice to offer the Early Start Denver Model in Sydney. We strive to deliver the ESDM at the highest levels of fidelity. Above all, we want the best outcome for every child.
The ESDM uses the best of all the evidence-based programs for young children with autism. It is an intervention that uses play to build skill across all area of development:
- Receptive Communication
- Expressive Communication
- Joint Attention
- Social Skills
- Fine Motor Skills
- Gross Motor Skills
- Personal Independence
The Early Start Denver Model is:
The activities and reinforcers that we use in the ESDM are based on normal play and fun activities. Equally important, the reinforcers are natural social reinforcers
It reflects the regular developmental pattern for children but there is a stronger focus on the areas that children with autism find more challenging
Evidence based teaching principles
The model uses the teaching principles of ABA because research shows that these principles are the best way of teaching children with autism. We give the child an instruction, if we don’t the desired response then we carefully prompt them to learn the skill, then we gradually fade the prompt so that the child becomes independent in the skill. As a result, children learn faster and maintain their skills.
The Early Start Denver Model approach combines many of the goals of Speech Pathology and Occupational Therapy.
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. This also means that they are able to 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. This allows the therapist to regulate the child’s alertness and ability to learn. Detailed records are kept 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 as either a Speech Pathologist, Psychologist or Occupational Therapist.
Generalisation is a key component to the ESDM. This means that children in the ESDM model can use their skills with a variety of people, in a variety of settings. It is important that the skills move 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.
We believe that parents are instrumental in the intervention of their child with autism. Research at the M.I.N.D. Institute showed that parents can deliver very effective intervention at home through their daily activities. We use the parent model to support parents so they can follow through on the goals that they wish to prioritise from their child’s curriculum.
The parent model of ESDM is a 12 week course that has the parent, child and therapist in a one hour work and play session. We use the parent ESDM manual, ‘An Early Start For Your Child With Autism’ during these sessions.
TRAINING AND CERTIFiCATION IN THE ESDM
To use the ESDM as an intervention, each therapist has to be certified. 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.
Working towards certification takes approximately 6 months and requires about 100 hours of training. All ESDM therapists at our clinic in Bondi Junction have completed this intensive level of training. They are certified by Senior ESDM Trainer, Cynthia Zierhut. Cynthia is involved in many ongoing ESDM research projects. This investment in delivering an evidence based model of intervention for young children with autism means that children are able to move towards reaching their potential.
For more information about the ESDM, go to our blog.