The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM)

The most rigorously assessed of these models is ESDM, a developmental intervention approach for children with autism between ages 12 and 48 months. ESDM views ASD as a complex disorder affecting virtually all areas of functioning, and requiring an interdisciplinary approach to address a wide range of challenges.

ESDM teaches developmental skills by using ABA strategies. For example, the adult models actions that are meaningful in the context of a play activity, and the child is promoted to produce an imitative response that will allow the activity to continue. Teaching occurs inside typical family routines, such as meals, bathing, playtime, chores, and community outings, and targets all affected areas of development, with particular attention to the child’s affect, attention, and arousal.

The ESDM is one of the few early interventions that is designed for children as young as 12 months old, and follows a play-based approach that supports the development of play skills, relationships, and language.

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