UC Davis Extension introductory online course on the “Early Start Denver
Model” provides parents, clinicians and educators with the tools to
potentially reduce the symptoms of autism.
www.extension.ucdavis.edu/autism

Davis, Calif.– While Autism Spectrum Disorder is shaped by genetics,
behavioral intervention — particularly in the early years — can often
create opportunities for cognitive and adaptive growth that result in
significant positive outcomes for children with autism. According to Sally
Rogers, Ph.D., UC Davis Extension instructor and professor in the Department
of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the UC Davis MIND Institute,
research suggests that environmental intervention early in life can greatly
reduce -and perhaps even reverse – autism symptoms in some infants and
toddlers.

One of the most highly regarded approaches to these kinds of interventions
is the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM), a method of intervention strategies
co-developed by Rogers and Geraldine Dawson, now a professor at Duke
University. Designed for children ages 12 to 60 months, ESDM is a
relationship-based, developmental, naturalistic approach that integrates
play, learning science and the data-based approaches of applied behavior
analysis.

Becoming certified as an ESDM provider is a multi-step process. Rogers will
be teaching the Early Start Denver Model Introductory Workshop-the first
step in that process- starting March 2nd, 2016, at UC Davis Extension. This
six-week, self-paced online program is the only one of its kind and is
available to parents, clinicians and educators who interact with children on
the autism spectrum. The enrollment fee is $395.

Unlike more traditional autism therapies, ESDM focuses on developing
children’s skills and knowledge in everyday settings and routines. Whereas
many strategies attempt to detour around the skills children with autism
lack, ESDM focuses on creating opportunities for learning and helping
children move through typical learning sequences.

“We are trying to maximize the learning potential of these young children
and build pathways that may have been influenced by autism genetics,” Rogers
said. “Those affected pathways may still be available to the infant. We may
not have to detour around them in our intervention models.”

Rogers says such early intervention can create significant improvement in
quality of life for children with autism. A clinical trial conducted in
Seattle and published in the journal Pediatrics, and a well-controlled study
conducted in Australia have both demonstrated that children who received
ESDM therapy showed greater improvement in cognitive and language abilities
and adaptive behavior-as well as fewer autism symptoms-than did children who
received the same amount of more-traditional therapies.

“The hope is that, if we can improve intervention with infants and toddlers,
many of them will be able to leave their disabilities behind by age five,”
Rogers said. Multiple high-quality intervention studies are demonstrating
that as many as half or more of young children with ASD who have significant
delays in intellectual and language development and who receive intensive
early intervention, perform in the normal range on IQ and language tests
after two years of treatment. These profound changes represent the promise
of early intervention for young children with ASD.

To register for the ESDM Introductory Workshop or learn more about UC Davis
Extension’s courses and Professional Concentration program on Autism
Spectrum Disorder, visit www.extension.ucdavis.edu/autism.

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UC Davis Extension serves lifelong learners in the growing Sacramento
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