Early Intervention and ESDM

The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is an evidence-based early intervention that promotes language, learning and engagement in young autistic children. The model incorporates a comprehensive curriculum and a set of teaching principles, informed by current developmental research and applied behaviour analysis theory. This naturalistic, play-based therapy sits at the forefront of scientifically supported early intervention for autism.

Promoting Language, Learning, and Engagement

In contrast to many other therapeutic approaches, fun is recognised as the driving force behind learning in the ESDM. Understood to be one of the most effective vehicles for teaching, fun is a key component in the process of achieving developmental targets for every child. Completing a puzzle or building a block tower together, playing with bubbles, reading books or singing – these are all rich opportunities for a child to learn about themselves, others and the world around them.

ESDM therapy focuses on eight core developmental domains, targeting skills and abilities that are often impacted by Autism, including:

  • Social skills and engagement – joint attention, turn-taking, and greeting
  • Cognitive skills – reading, identifying numbers, and understanding quantities
  • Social and pretend play
  • Personal independence – eating, dressing, personal hygiene, and chores
  • Fine and gross motor skills – drawing, writing, walking and jumping
  • Communication – understanding and using language, gestures (requesting, sharing, giving, pointing) and facial expressions

More broadly, ESDM therapists use techniques that aim to strengthen a child’s social reward system, in order to increase their engagement with social learning opportunities both within and beyond the therapy room.

We can help you

The ESDM encourages parents/caregivers to assume an integral role in their child’s learning and to assist with setting objectives for their child by communicating their values, hopes and priorities across everyday settings. Parents/caregivers can also be coached in the implementation of ESDM strategies in the home.

Your ESDM therapists will start with an assessment of your child using the ESDM curriculum as a guide. They will then develop a 10-12-week individualised learning program, setting a series of learning objectives and outlining the steps essential to accomplishing these.

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What to expect

Making your first appointment

Once you’ve decided to try therapy, call our kind and caring admin team on (02) 9139 0126 to discuss what you are having difficulty with and book your first appointment.

Attending the initial consultation

In the initial consultation, your therapist is looking to build a picture of how you’ve come to where you are today and what you are looking to get out of therapy. Your therapist will do their best to address any questions or concerns you may have about the process.

Creating a treatment plan together

Over the first three sessions, your therapist will work collaboratively with you to establish goals for therapy. They are designed to be specific, realistic, and tailored to your needs.

Undergoing therapy

As your therapy goes on, you will continue the process of building a trusting relationship with your therapist. You will work with them to find alternative ways of thinking and behaving, build resilience and learn new skills that will help to see yourself and the world differently, and promote helpful actions in life.

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Not sure where to start or have a question?

There can be lots of questions that come up when you’re trying to make a decision about whether to see a psychologist. If you have a question that we haven’t answered in our FAQ, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.