The Early Start Denver Model, or ESDM, has been used as an effective early intervention method for children with autism for more than 20 years. ESDM is a relationship-focused technique that incorporates Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) to treat the whole child. Because ESDM produces evidence-based data, professionals in the field have proven empirically supported success with children who are approximately one to two years old.
The structure of ESDM sessions
ESDM can be tailored to fit the unique needs of any child in any setting, as this method can be integrated into play or natural routines. This format allows therapists to collect empirical data to track the progress of the child while still maintaining a fun and playful environment that keeps the child engaged.
Due to the flexibility of the ESDM structure, therapists are also able to create a treatment plan to address the unique abilities and needs of that child. The domains (or skills) that ESDM targets include cognition, imitation, language, motor skills, play skills, personal independence behavior, and social skills; however, not all children will need to work on every one of these skills during ESDM.
Where can I find an ESDM therapist in my area?
Therapists who wish to provide ESDM in their practice must first earn a Master’s Degree (or academic equivalent) in their respective field. Typically BCBAs (Board Certified Behavior Analysts), occupational therapists, or speech-language pathologists provide this type of treatment in their practice with young children with autism.
To earn the certification, the therapist must also read the full ESDM manual, attend training workshops (and complete materials provided in the workshop), and complete supervisory hours with a therapist who is trained in ESDM. This extensive training ensures that the therapist is adequately trained in a range of techniques in order to work with any child.
In addition to therapists earning training in ESDM, there is also training for parents who wish to start ESDM therapy with their children. This component can be critical in providing the most comprehensive care to children, as parents spend much more time with their child than the therapists. This additional layer of training helps parents to continue the therapeutic strategies in the home and provides consistency for the child.
The University of California Davis is extremely influential in the development of ESDM, so they provide a database of therapists certified in ESDM. This comprehensive list also provides contact information for each of these therapists who are based across the globe. Our very own Evan Campa, M.Ed, BCBA is listed in this database. So if you are in the Chicago area and would like to learn more about ESDM therapy at Chicago ABA Therapy, contact our office to speak with one of our representatives!