Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)-Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) Services

Summit provides Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)-Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) therapy for children (ages 0-5 years) with ASD, language delays, or related disorders. Dr. Hughes-Lika is an ESDM Certified Therapist and oversees all program development and training for this service delivery model. Our interventions are based on the principles of applied behavior analysis and provided in your child’s home, community, or school setting.

The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is a comprehensive early intervention program that integrates behavioral, relationship-based, and developmental approaches into an intensive, evidence-based intervention program for children with autism, ages 12 months to 60 months. Children participating in ESDM therapy receive a minimum of 12 to 25 hours of individualized home-based or community programming, carried out by trained interventionists and parents, during natural routines and play-based activities. The program encompasses a developmental curriculum that defines the skills to be taught at any given time, and a set of teaching procedures used to deliver this content. 

The core features of the ESDM include:

  • Naturalistic applied behavioral analytic strategies (i.e., PRT)
  • Sensitivity to the typical development sequence
  • High level of parental involvement
  • Focus on meaningful social exchange and positive affect
  • Shared engagement with joint activities
  • Language and communication taught inside a positive, affect-based relationship

We believe that our clients have the right to effective treatment, and only implement interventions based on scientific evidence. Additionally, we aim to provide efficient and effective programming for our clients, so that they can make the maximum amount of progress during their time with us.

ABA-ESDM Therapy Locations

Research from leading experts on early childhood development has show that children learn best when they are participating in natural learning opportunities within everyday routines and activities with their families and in the community. Autism is a neurodevelopmenal disorder characterized by deficits in social communication and social interaction and the presence of restricted, repetitive behaviors. As such, we promote collaboration with local community providers to ensure our children have access to the language and learning enriched environments that their peers provide. By partnering with local daycare, child development centers, and preschools we are able to provide the ABA-ESDM therapy in those settings. We also offer a hybrid approach, where some of the treatment sessions are conducted in the home setting and some of the treatment sessions are conducted in the community setting. Considerations for which model is best for the child, are determined together by the BCBA and family. 

ABA-ESDM Treatment Hours

In order for us to help our clients achieve optimal outcomes to improve the quality of their lives, we provide comprehensive early intervention services. Comprehensive refers to treatment of the multiple affected developmental domains, such as cognitive, communicative, social, emotional, and adaptive functioning. Challenging behaviors are also addressed in treatment. These comprehensive programs tend to range from 20-35 hours of treatment per week (plus direct and indirect supervision and parent training). Although the recommended number of hours of therapy may seem high, this is based on research findings regarding the intensity required to produce good outcomes. 

ABA-ESDM Schedule Options 

We have found that providing consistent dates and times for the ABA-ESDM therapy sessions, works best for both the child and family. Therefore, we offer block therapy session times. What this means, is each child would receive ABA-ESDM therapy on set days and times. This enables parents to plan their everyday activities and the child's other therapies accordingly. Additionally, it provides a consistent routine and structure for the child's week. Our comprehensive ABA-ESDM services are offered Monday-Friday, from 8am-4:30pm. Unfortunately, at this time we do not offer late afternoon or weekend sessions. 

For our little ones, who are still napping, they typically receive their ABA-ESDM treatment hours in the mornings (8am-12pm). For our children who are no longer napping, we are able to provide ABA-ESDM services in the afternoons, or both morning and afternoon (8am-12pm and/or 1-4pm). The treatment dosage (intensity) will vary with each client and reflects the treatment goals, specific client needs, and response to treatment.

What does the ABA-ESDM Therapy Look Like?

As we specialize in working with young children with ASD, we conduct the majority of teaching opportunities in the natural environment. Children learn through play, and we believe that learning should be flexible, follow the child’s motivation, and be fun! Summit staff work hard to create opportunities to teach through the following activities: science, art, music and movement, snack time, behavior fit (i.e., exercise), and play. Our therapy sessions are structured, so that every 10-15 minutes the staff-child are transitioning to a new activity. This helps to promote active engagement, expose the child to multiple learning 'centers' throughout the session, and establish a language and learning environment that is always evolving. Because the children are having fun, they become absorbed in the activity. In turn, they develop the ability to concentrate and stay focused for longer periods of time, enabling additional teaching and learning opportunities to occur.

“There’s a world of difference between insisting on someone’s doing something and establishing an atmosphere in which that person can grow into wanting to do it.”
— Fred Rogers