Do you have a child on the autism spectrum who you believe could benefit from early intervention Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy? The Early Start Denver Model, or ESDM, can be an incredibly helpful tool for children on the autism spectrum. As with any method of ABA therapy, the involvement of parents is a critical component of the therapeutic process, and ESDM allows parents to play an active role.
Background on ESDM
ESDM, a treatment modality founded by psychologists in the 1980s, is commonly used in ABA by board certified behavior analysts (BCBAs), occupational therapists (OTs), and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) after completing ESDM training. One of the reasons professionals in the field use this method is because the progress of the child can be empirically tracked throughout therapy. ESDM also incorporates a relationship-based model and ABA techniques to provide the most comprehensive care for the child. ESDM also works on building many essential skills, including adaptive skills, cognition, communication and language, and socialization.
Who can benefit most from ESDM?
Typically, ESDM is used with children who are on the autism spectrum and between 12 to 24 months old. While ESDM is typically part of an early intervention treatment plan for young children, ESDM can be a helpful method for children of all ages who have a diagnosis of autism.
Consistency is also important to the success of any ABA therapy, including ESDM. In addition to therapists using ESDM during sessions with children, it can be helpful for parents to also use this method with their children at home. Parents can become trained in ESDM methods by reading the ESDM parent manual and maintaining open communication with the providing therapist(s).
Why is the parent manual important?
This manual provides many strategies that parents can use every day with their children who are on the autism spectrum. By using the strategies in the manual, parents are able to provide an additional level of support for their children in the home environment and reinforce the methods used in school (or clinical sessions) during ABA therapy. This consistency and frequent practice can help children build skills even more quickly.
Skills covered in the parent manual
The ESDM parent manual offers many ways parents can help children build skills during their typical daily routines, as well as ways to involve the entire family in the therapeutic process. Some of the specific skills addressed in the book include:
- Sensory social skills
- Interacting with others
- Using appropriate nonverbal communication
- Imitating (appropriate) behaviors
- Appropriate play skills
- Speech and language development