Early Start Denver Model Research Results

The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is being used more and more as a treatment for autism, as research has proven its success. Since the 1980s, this model of treatment has been used by professionals to help children on the autism spectrum develop cognitive, communication, and social skills. ESDM also includes applied behavior analysis (ABA), in addition to a relationship-focused method of interacting with children.

When can children start receiving ESDM as part of their treatment plan?
While it may seem early, professionals may begin using ESDM with children as young as 12 or 24 months old. The goal in starting therapy this early is to encourage typical development and reduce problematic behaviors in children who are on the autism spectrum.

What are the ESDM domains?
ESDM targets several different domains (or skills) of early childhood development. These domains of ESDM include: communication (both expressive and receptive), play skills, motor skills (both fine and gross), personal independence behavior, imitation, cognition, and social skills. The providers are also able to track the progress of the child in each of these domains throughout the process of ESDM.

In addition to using ESDM during a typical ABA therapy session, parents of children with autism can also use ESDM techniques at home to practice and reinforce positive behaviors. ESDM can also be incorporated into play and normal routines, which is helpful for young children.

Research shows it works
Professionals use ESDM techniques with children who are on the autism spectrum, because there are years of research that show it works. Two psychologists, Sally Rogers, Ph.D., and Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., founded ESDM in the 1980s, and since that time researchers have studied the progress of children. One particular study was published in the journal of Pediatrics in 2009. This study revealed that ESDM successfully contributed to increased IQ scores, communication skills, and social skills in children on the autism spectrum.

This study took place over a five-year period and studied the progress of children as young as 18 months old who were working with a therapist using the ESDM method. The children who were using this method with their therapists progressed much more quickly than the other children in the study. The study found that this method is successful because of the strong structure and focus on building a relationship with the child.

Are you interested in the ESDM for your child in the Chicago area? Contact us or call (773) 630-4400 to learn more about the range of services we provide for children who are on the autism spectrum at Chicago ABA Therapy, including applied behavior analysis therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology.

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"Chicago ABA Therapy is a boon for special needs kids and parents. They take a play-based, personalized approach and meet the kids where they are. They also go above and beyond - our ABA therapist took time to make sure we as parents understood every aspect of our child's experience, understood how to read his progress reports and generally made us feel a part of his therapy. My child loved all his therapists. Highly recommend the team!"

"We were so happy with our experience with Chicago ABA. We began working with them when our son was almost 4, a few months after his autism diagnosis. It was such an amazing team to work with - everyone was professional, responsive, flexible, and worked so hard for our son to meet his goals, which he did beautifully. We worked together for almost 2 years before he left for kindergarten, and in that time period he met almost all of his goals. We went through several bumps in the road with behavioral difficulties, and the Chicago ABA team did an amazing job helping us problem solve, try new strategies and think of ways to translate those strategies at home. We couldn't recommend them more highly - anyone who works with Chicago ABA will be lucky to have the experience!"