What Is The Early Start Denver Model?

The Early Start Denver Model, or ESDM, is an intensive, early intervention approach designed specifically for children with autism ages 1-3 years. While it is common belief that children cannot get a diagnosis of autism until they are about 3 years old, there are many early signs of autism that appear before the age of three. Pediatricians are able to take note of these signs and if they are concerned, can then refer the child to an ABA therapist who is knowledgable about the ESDM process. This approach focuses on many aspects of autism and develops goals based around your child’s strengths and weaknesses. It centers the therapy around promoting social communication and social behavior through play, imitation, sharing and joint attention. It utilizes the child’s specific interests to engage and motivate them for each of the therapy sessions.

A key aspect that makes the ESDM model so successful is the intensity of the program. It requires multiple hours a week for maximum effectiveness. Children with autism tend to have less social interactions and therefore less opportunities for social learning. Through this demanding therapy approach, the child gets many more opportunities to learn and therefore develop, than they would in a typical day.

Another important factor of the ESDM program is the direct inclusion of parents in the implementation of therapy. Therapists will teach parents specific at-home techniques that they can use to continue therapy after the sessions with the therapist have ended. Through the continuation of therapy-based practices, your child will benefit greatly and develop their skills at an even faster rate.

If you or your doctor have specific concerns about your child, finding an ABA therapist and starting an ESDM therapy program is one of the best things you can do for them. If you would like more information regarding the ESDM model,  here are a few resources to help you gain more knowledge and help your child get the support they need right away.

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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!"