Training in the Early Start Denver Model


ESDM training is offered to clinical psychology interns and postdoctoral fellows at the Duke Center for Autism.  The Center also offers occasional ESDM workshops to the broader community.  The workshop is described below. Registration for future workshops will be posted on this website. Persons interested in receiving ESDM training can find out more information here

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.

Books on ESDM

Rogers, S.J. and Dawson, G. (2010) The Early Start Denver Model for Young Children with Autism: Promoting Language, Learning, and Engagement.  New York:  The Guilford Press.  Translated into Japanese, Italian, Dutch, French, Spanish, Portugese, Chinese, Arabic, Romanian, Korean, Polish, German, Russian, and Turkish.

Rogers, S.J., Dawson G., and Vismara, L. (2012).  An Early Start for Your Child with Autism.   New York:  Guilford Press. Translated into Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, Portuguese, French, Chinese, Lithuanian, and Russian.

Vivanti, G., Duncan, E., Dawson, G., and Rogers, SJ.  (2016). Implementing the Group-based Early Start Denver Model for Preschoolers with Autism.  New York:  Springer Publishing. 


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