Early Start Denver Model (ESDM)
Texas Cares About Autism uses the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) to specifically target areas in which children may have difficulty—social interaction, integrated skills sets, personal relationship forming—with a relationship-focused curriculum. It relies on intensively tested and empirically verified teaching techniques that draw on Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) and field-vetted teaching practices. Some of the key features of the Early Start Denver Model are:
• Deep parental interaction
• Language and communication lessons delivered within an affect-based and positive relationship
• Emphasis on positive affect and interpersonal dynamics
• Naturalistic strategies drawn from ABA
• Joint activities that reinforce shared involvement
• A sensitivity to normal childhood development goals
The ESDM prepares children with autism spectrum disorders and their parents for later educational and developmental programs, such as the Denver Model. It helps to establish relationship-focused behaviors in the children at an early age, which will assist in their integration to larger social groups at a later time. As such, it has become an indispensable aid to children who may not naturally seek connection with other members
Why Is It Essential?
Based on randomized clinical trials, the ESDM was shown to be highly beneficial to children with ASD. The model’s malleable setting needs—which means it can be employed in a clinical setting, a group therapy environment, and even at home—showed that children who received 20 hours of total instruction with the model prospered in later programs focused on socialized skills and language acquisition. In fact, the trials showed that children with greater learning challenges benefited as much as others with fewer difficulties.
The ESDM has proven indispensable to parents and caregivers of children with ASD, in large part because it assists with social development from a very early age. Many skill sets are directly or subtly linked to our ability to communicate and interact with others in a social context. Hence, without the basis for learning in an integrated, socially focused environment, children may suffer substantially in terms of cognitive development.