The Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development is offering training in the Early Start Denver Model

December 6, 2016 -
7:30am to 5:00pm
Hock Plaza Auditorium, Durham, NC



The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is a comprehensive, naturalistic developmental behavioral early intervention approach designed by Drs. Sally Rogers and Geraldine Dawson for children ages 12 to 60 months who are diagnosed with or at risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The model uses the knowledge of how typical children develop and learn and the ways in which ASD affects early development in order to improve developmental outcomes for children with ASD. The goals of ESDM are to reduce the severity of ASD symptoms in young children and to accelerate children’s developmental rates in multiple domains, including cognitive, social-emotional, adaptive, and language skills. ESDM is a manualized intervention and is comprised of a curriculum, a set of teaching practices that are based on naturalistic developmental applied behavior analysis principles, and a fidelity measure.

ESDM is one of two early intervention methods that are considered by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to be efficacious intervention methods. Efficacy was initially established in an NIH-funded randomized clinical trial with toddlers with ASD, which demonstrated that ESDM resulted in significantly improved cognitive, language, adaptive behavior, and social outcomes, as well as normalized brain responses to social stimuli. Several additional studies have demonstrated the efficacy and effectiveness of ESDM across a variety of formats, including intensive delivery, parent coaching, and preschool/daycare delivery.

Workshop Overview

Faculty members at the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development will offer a one-day introductory workshop on ESDM. The workshop is designed to be relevant for individuals from a variety of backgrounds, including professionals, parents, and other interested parties. Workshop activities will include didactic instruction, exercises, and group discussion. The workshop is not designed to certify individuals as ESDM therapists, but instead to introduce attendees to the core principles and practices of ESDM. Attendees will learn about the background, principles, curriculum assessment, data systems, and intervention procedures of ESDM.

Topics include how to:

  • Administer and complete an ESDM developmental assessment of children's skill levels.
  • Develop individualized, developmentally-appropriate teaching objectives and teaching steps.
  • Implement the ESDM teaching practices and the fidelity system to evaluate technique use.
  • Maintain data systems and address slow or limited child progress, when needed.

Date and Time

December 6th, 2016 | 7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Participating Faculty

Dr. Geraldine Dawson is a Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Pediatrics, and Psychology and Neuroscience and the Director of the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development at Duke University, North Carolina. Dawson is President of the International Society for Autism Research. She serves as a member of the NIH Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) which develops the federal strategic plan for autism research, services, and policy. Dawson is a licensed practicing clinical psychologist and scientist, having published >250 articles and 10 books on early detection and treatment of autism and brain development. From 2008-2013, Dawson was Research Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and served as the first Chief Science Officer for Autism Speaks, an autism science and advocacy organization, where she oversaw $25-30 million of annual research funding. From 1985-2008, Dawson was Professor of Psychology at the University of Washington. There, she was Founding Director of the University of Washington Autism Center where she directed three consecutive interdisciplinary NIH Autism Center of Excellence research awards on genetics, neuroimaging, early diagnosis, and treatment, and oversaw the University of Washington Autism Treatment Center, which provides interdisciplinary clinical services for individuals with autism from infancy through young adulthood. Dawson is a Fellow of the American Psychological Society and American Psychological Association, and is Associate Editor or on editorial boards of four scientific journals. Dawson’s awards include a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Psychological Science for outstanding contributions to the area of applied psychological research that addresses a critical problem in society at large, among others. Dawson received a Ph.D. in Developmental and Child Clinical Psychology from the University of Washington and completed a clinical internship at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute.


Dr. Katherine Davlantis holds a degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California and a doctorate in Human Development from the University of California, Davis, and is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Dr. Davlantis has over ten years’ experience working with individuals with ASD and their families. She is a certified Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) therapist, trainer, and parent coach, and has traveled both nationally and internationally to train other professionals in the model. As a licensed clinical social worker, she is experienced in assessing young children, delivering evidence-based early interventions, and providing parent coaching in those interventions.

In 2013, she won the Autism Speaks’ Young Investigator Award for her dissertation work, focused on parent-child interaction involving toddlers with ASD. She has published work regarding developmentally appropriate, play-based early interventions for infants and toddlers, and frequently presents on these topics to a variety of audiences. Dr. Davlantis is thrilled to bring together her skills and experience in order to advance research and to provide quality clinical care at the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development. As the Director of ESDM Services and Training, Dr. Davlantis both provides direct treatment to families and children and trains and supervises others who do the same. She additionally directs the ESDM training program, providing training in the model to other professionals in the community and around the world. She is also trained to research reliability on the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-2 and the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised and is currently responsible for directing the clinical assessment team for a clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of umbilical cord blood to improve outcomes for children with ASD.


Dr. Lauren Franz is a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Global Health at Duke University. She conducts clinical diagnostic evaluations and provides clinical care to children with ASD at the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development. Dr. Franz is a certified Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) therapist. She is the recipient of an early career development award from the National Institutes of Health to adapt and implement the parent-ESDM intervention for children with autism and their families in South Africa.



The workshop will be held in the Hock Plaza Auditorium, located in the basement of Hock Plaza, at 2424 Erwin Road in Durham, NC. Parking will be provided at the Hock Plaza Parking Garage and the Research Drive Parking Deck, both within walking distance of Hock Plaza. Please plan accordingly and allow yourself enough time to park and walk to Hock Plaza.


Attendees are required to purchase both the ESDM manual and the ESDM curriculum checklist, review prior to the workshop, and bring to the workshop.

Registration and Fees

The cost for the 8.5-hour workshop is $350, and includes parking, a light breakfast, and lunch.

Full payment is required at the time of registration, and is nonrefundable. **The registration deadline has been extended!** Registration will close on Tuesday, November 29, 2016, at 11:30 PM.

Joint Accreditation approved continuing education credits will be provided.

Category 1: Duke University Health System Department of Clinical Education and Professional Development designates this activity for a maximum of 6.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. 
Jointly provided by the Duke University Health System Department of Clinical Education and Professional Development and the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development.

In support of improving patient care, the Duke University Health System Department of Clinical Education and Professional Development is accredited by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), to provide continuing education for the health care team.

*Attendees are expected to be present for the entire program. Individuals who are not present for the full program will not receive JA credits. No partial credit will be provided.  Certificates of attendance will also be provided at the end of the full day. Certificates are not available for partial attendance.



If you have any questions, please contact the ESDM training team at

Please click here to register!