Early Start Denver Model


Developed by the MIND Institute in California, the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) program is an evidence-based, behavioural early intervention program for children aged one to four with autism or similar developmental needs.

The program was developed by psychologists Sally Rogers, PhD, and Geraldine Dawson, PhD, and combines the best practices of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) with a routine based, play and relationship focused approach that makes therapy both fun and effective.

Parents and therapists use play and shared activities to build each child’s social-emotional, cognitive and language abilities.

ESDM is:

  • for children aged one to four;
  • based on our understanding of typical toddler learning and development; and
  • focused on building positive relationships and sharing fun activities to develop social communication.

ESDM therapy can be provided at home, in a clinic or in child-care or school and can be provided by a trained and certified:

  • Speech and Language Pathologist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Psychologist
  • Behaviour Specialist
  • Early Childhood Educator



ESDM details what and how to teach young children with autism to help them achieve developmental milestones, working in collaboration with families, child care centres and schools, and using the expertise of a team of specialist therapists.



 Please note, service delivery varies between clinics so please check with your local clinic about their services.