Soar’s approach to autism therapy is based on the Early Start Denver Model, or ESDM, the most effective and compassionate autism care for young children.
ESDM focuses on teaching children in the ways that their brains are naturally wired to learn, through relationships, social interactions, and play. It is the leading, evidence-based therapy for young learners, aged 1 to 5.
The ESDM is a naturalistic – or play-based – approach to autism therapy. It combines principles from applied behavior analysis (ABA), developmental science, and relationship-based approaches.
In more than a dozen highly reputable studies, therapy based on the ESDM was found to improve language, social, and adaptive skills in children with autism, as well as cognition and behavior.
Research studies on ESDM have also shown improvements in brain activity, such as changes on brain wave tests (EEG) when viewing faces and objects.
Early intervention with the ESDM can make a lifelong difference for children with autism, yet the model is not widely available outside of a few select providers, including Soar Autism Center.
Soar is nothing like the old-school, behavior-focused ABA therapy that many autism treatment programs continue to offer. Many ABA providers focus only on behaviors and force children to conform to one way of doing things.
Soar’s approach is completely different. Our therapy is based on the latest brain science which shows that children learn best through play, relationships, and fun.
At Soar, we celebrate neurodiversity. Our whole-child autism care philosophy addresses each child’s individual needs while celebrating and cultivating their strengths.
ESDM and ABA are related. The simplest description is that ESDM is a blending of the principles of ABA along with developmental and relationship science.
ESDM is a form of Naturalistic Developmental Behavioral Interventions, or NDBIs. ESDM and NDBI are recognized by the American Academy of Pediatrics as effective and well-studied approaches to autism therapy.
Check out this article in our autism Learning Center with more detail on the differences between the two models. The article includes videos on the two models so you can see the differences in action.
Joint activity routines (JARs) are used as the core learning tool in the ESDM.
The ESDM checklist focuses on key skills for young children: communication, social skills, play, dressing, etc.
Teaches children that caregivers are fun and creates a foundation for ongoing learning.
ABA teaching strategies are embedded into JARs for learning
In this video, Soar’s co-founder Ian Goldstein, MD, explains how Soar approaches autism therapy based on the ESDM.