Mother lifting infant into the air and kissing
First Steps TrainingIntroduction

What is the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM)?

Developed by psychologists Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D. and Sally Rogers, Ph.D., the ESDM is an early intervention program designed to promote language, learning, and engagement for young children 12-48 months of age with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ESDM is supported by the principles of developmental psychology and applied behavior analysis (ABA). Teaching interventions are delivered within play-based, relationship-focused routines. The ESDM curriculum is designed to address all areas of the child’s development using ABA based teaching strategies that involve interpersonal exchange and positive affect, shared engagement with real-life materials and activities, adult responsiveness and increasing parent sensitivity to child cues, and focus on developing the child’s verbal and nonverbal communication skills.

The three primary goals of the ESDM include:

  • Bringing the child into social relationships
  • Following the child’s lead when socially engaging the child
  • Developing play activities to support a child’s learning

What is Early Start Maine?

Early Start Maine is an initiative of the Maine Autism Institute for Education and Research. The Early Start Maine team is comprised of nationally certified ESDM providers. In partnership with Maine Child Development Services (CDS), our team provides training, consultation, and ongoing support to early intervention providers statewide who are working with toddlers with autism.

Acronyms and terms to know:

IFSP: Individualized Family Service Plan PSP   Graphic 'Learn'
ESM-C: Early Start Maine Consultant
PSP: Primary Service Provider
EIPM: Early Intervention Program Manager
Part C: The Federal law that drives this the coaching practice for children 0-3 under the Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA).
Coaching: The practice used to deliver services to children and families receiving Part C services in Maine.

First Steps Training Objectives

Participants will:

  • Describe Early Start Maine and ESDM
  • Understand the role of the Primary Service Provider and ESM-C
  • Describe the four key components of the play partner relationship
  • Identify the four parts of Joint Activity Routine
  • Understand ABC and specific teaching strategies including prompting and the one up rule.

View this video introducing the Early Start Denver Model

Screenshot of Sally Rogers, UC Davis MIND Institute Researcher


Return to Training homepage
                Continue to Module 1