The essence behind the model is to bring a child with autism, back into the social loop at every opportunity, because a child with autism starts to drift out that social loop at around six months of age. So what does 'a social loop' mean? A social loop is where the child is socially engaged with others, like their typically developing peer is, and it's in that context that the typically developing child does most of their learning.
By paying attention to other people, to their faces, their voices their actions, their gestures and, observing and imitating those, either mentally or acting them out, and that's where the bulk of their learning occurs. But for the child with ASD, at around six months of age they start to babble less, they start to pay less and less attention to the people around them and they're actually gradually falling out of that social loop, so they're missing out on all those valuable learning opportunities in every moment of their day that their typically developing peers are getting, and that has a cascading effect on their overall development.
So that, at the heart of the ESDM, is empirical evidence behind the social learning, learning communication skills, learning imitation skills, learning play skills, cognition, self-help skills, joint attention, crossing all of the developmental domains. But essentially, we are, in whatever we're doing, whether it's reading a book or doing a puzzle or playing outdoors, the focus is to get that lovely alternating attention between the activity and the child's attention to our face and our voices and our actions.