Overview
The Early start Denver model (ESDN) is a comprehensive early education model designed for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ESDN is used for children ages 12 to 60 months. ESDN is associated with applied behavior analysis (ABA).

ESDN may be used for children who show early risk for autism or those who have already been diagnosed.

What does it involve?... read more

ESDN can be administered by occupational therapists, special education teachers, child psychologists, early intervention specialists, developmental pediatricians, and speech therapists. ESDN is effective in groups or on an individual basis. Parents and caregivers are also trained and encouraged to use ESDN with the child at home. Experts recommend 15 hours per week of ESDN with an instructor, and five hours per week at home using ESDN with the parents.

The ESDN curriculum is based on normal child development patterns. ESDN strategies are intended to foster similar development in children with ASD.

ESDN focuses on relationships and the naturalistic teaching principles of applied behavior analysis. The child is motivated to learn by parental involvement, engagement in joint activities, and interpersonal exchange. ESDN activities are designed to be enjoyable for the child in order to foster motivation to learn.

Intended Outcomes
The goal of early start Denver model intervention is to foster learning, language skills, and adaptive behavior in children who have or may have autism spectrum disorder.

Results
In a study published in 2010, 48 children diagnosed with ASD were assigned to receive either ESDN or the therapy intervention commonly used in their community. The children who received ESDN therapy showed significant improvement in IQ scores and adaptive behavior. In addition, more of the children who engaged in ESDN intervention had their diagnosis changed from autism to pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified.

In a small study published in 2012, electroencephalograms (EEGs), were used to measure brain activity in autistic children before and after two years of early start Denver model intervention. Those who received ESDN showed brain activity more closely resembling that of typically developing children, while autistic children who did not receive ESDN therapy showed brain activity patterns consistent with ASD.

Constraints
Your child’s therapist may not be trained in using ESDN.

If you pay out-of-pocket for therapy, it can become expensive.

Depending on where you live, it may be difficult to travel to therapy appointments

Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) Questions

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