ESDM for professionals

What is the Early Start Denver Model?

These courses are designed for professionals including early childhood educators, teachers, therapy assistants, psychologists and speech, occupational and behaviour therapists who work with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other developmental disorders.

ESDM is a naturalistic intervention, which fits well with mainstream early childhood education centres as it is underpinned by play-based learning, developing of secure and reciprocal relationships, promoting of all forms of communication, and the following of child interests and choices. 

The courses and workshops are available locally and internationally and will be run by Certified ESDM trainer, Elizabeth Aylward and her team. One of only 4 certified trainers in Australia, Elizabeth has been teaching the ESDM since 2010.

What was the impact of training in the ESDM in your work with young children?

A participant in the ESDM Advanced Workshop (for professionals working with children with ASD, and degree qualified in the areas of Education, Allied Health, Psychology and Medicine) explains the positive impacts of training in the ESDM in her work with young children.

I've always believed that ESDM, once I've got to know the model and however much I have known about the model, um its way of life, I feel I don't want to just call it a model, I feel like it's a way of life.

I've seen the impact that ESDM has had on the life lives of young children. And when I say that, that's because of the interactions that we had with a multi-disciplinary team during our training, which consisted of speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, parents, therapists in general and, and those, some, some with PhDs who wanted to just better their understanding. And, and if you actually look closely at at the checklist that was created, that checklist was also created by pioneers each in their fields.

And that's why I feel like the checklist itself of the ESDM model at the four levels that it is, and it covers such a comprehensive range of skills um, and for me to be able to go with the child to the playground and be able to apply ESDM with something as specific as teaching them to take turns with other children and or in bath time, meal time to the fact that that model could be applied in those naturalistic scenarios to help the child and to help families.

Um and one thing we sometimes overlook is, because our focus is so much on the on the on the child is, the effect and the impact sometimes the diagnosis can have on families. And to be able to watch the transition from the initial stage where they're so vulnerable and when they come to you for support and watch that child transition and along with the child watch the family transition into a much more happier state is what ESDM represents to me. 

Training and workshops

This is an advanced workshop for degree-qualified professionals (including speech therapists, occupational therapists, teachers, behaviour therapists, medical professionals and psychologists) who work with children with ASD (and other developmental disorders) who would like to learn how to carry out ongoing therapy using the Early Start Denver Model. It is the standardised Therapist workshop developed by Sally Rogers and Geraldine Dawson (MIND Institute UC Davis).

These workshops are delivered remotely (via live zoom stream) to facilitate access for all interested professionals in Australia and abroad. The course is delivered as a series of 6 half day workshops, each a week apart. This provides flexibility and time between each session for reflection and practice in each participant’s own workplace.

Participants will receive online supervision to assess a child with ASD and develop and implement an intervention program, using the ESDM teaching principles. Coaching and feedback will be provided by a Certified ESDM Trainer across the 6 x half-day (3-hour) sessions to build skills and confidence.

It is important that professionals wishing to provide ESDM Therapy continue through a certification process, following the Advanced Workshop, to achieve fidelity in delivering this model of intervention. This is the only way to become a Certified ESDM Therapist. Follow up supervision and mentoring are provided throughout this process, including fortnightly booster coaching sessions to help keep participants well supported. This certification process is strongly encouraged to deliver the model at fidelity and its most authentic level. See below for further details.

Prerequisites: Completion of the 8-hour online introductory course Early Start Denver Model Introductory Workshop, is a compulsory pre-requisite before participating in the ESDM Advanced Workshop.

For Teachers in NSW, Australia, who are Including Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders , please note that completing the Early Start Denver Model Advanced Workshop will contribute 18 hours of NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) Accredited PD in the priority area of students/children with disability addressing standard descriptors 1.1.2, 1.6.2, 3.1.2, 4.1.2, 5.4.2 from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient Teacher Accreditation in NSW.

The 3-hour workshops are held 2.30pm- 5.30pm over 6 weeks.

Cost: $2,000 (includes GST) per participant.

To book or register your interest for the ESDM Advanced Workshop, fill out the online form, or contact the ESDM training coordinator to book on

ESDM Advanced Workshop Schedule 2023

Please note that Workshop series 3 and 4 run for 7 weeks due to interruptions by Australian public holidays.

  • WORKSHOP 1: Tuesday, 21 February – Tuesday, 28 March - FULL
  • WORKSHOP 2: Thursday, 23 February – FULL
  • WORKSHOP 3: Tuesday, 11 April – Tuesday, 23 May - FULL
  • WORKSHOP 4: Thursday, 13 April – Thursday, 25 May - FULL
  • WORKSHOP 5: Tuesday, 6 June - Tuesday, 11 July
  • WORKSHOP 6: Thursday, 8 June – Thursday, 13 July
  • WORKSHOP 7: Tuesday, 25 July – Tuesday, 29 August
  • WORKSHOP 8: Thursday, 27 July – Thursday, 31 August
  • WORKSHOP 9: Tuesday, 12 September – Tuesday, 17 October
  • WORKSHOP 10: Thursday, 14 September – Thursday, 19 October
  • WORKSHOP 11: Tuesday, 31 October – Tuesday, 5 December - FULL
  • WORKSHOP 12: Thursday, 2 November – Thursday, 7 December

Please note all courses are conducted online from Wollongong/Sydney, Australia.  Course times from April to September each year are based on Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST), and courses held from October to March are based on Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT). Please double check course times against your Country or City’s local time zone.

The ESDM certification mentoring and supervision process is a necessary additional step which follows the Advanced Workshop and takes professionals through a 6 to 12 month process of achieving a high level of fidelity in the delivery of the ESDM. You will be mentored, supported and supervised by your Certified ESDM Trainer over the entire period of your Certification. Fortnightly Group Certification Mentoring Sessions are delivered remotely, from 4pm – 6pm Sydney time to help keep you on track and expedite your journey to Certification. Achieving Certification is the only way of ensuring that this therapy model is delivered at fidelity, with integrity and as intended. The Fidelity Measure in this model is one of the critical reasons for its success and strong evidence base. Successful completion of the Certification course will see you become a Certified ESDM Therapist.  

Prerequisites: Completion of the Advanced ESDM workshop – Early Start for Therapists.

Cost: $2,050 plus GST per participant. Payment Plan available. This fee includes mentoring, supervision and the review of 5 submissions as well as monthly booster coaching sessions from your Certified ESDM Trainer.

To enquire, email us at

2022 ESDM Certification Trainees: Fortnightly Booster Sessions will be held on the following dates during 2022, from 4 – 6pm AEST

  • Monday, 24 October 2022
  • Monday, 7 November 2022
  • Monday, 21 November 2022
  • Monday, 5 December 2022 

Please note, all course times are based on Australian Eastern Standard Time (ESDT) as courses are held in Wollongong/Sydney, Australia time (online).

This course is designed for educators and therapy assistants in mainstream Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) services and schools who are supporting children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Each small group session, delivered online via zoom, features helpful strategies to guide educators and therapists in ways of engaging, teaching and managing the behaviours of children with ASD so that they can participate fully in mainstream ECEC programs and learn from their typically developing peers. 

Topics covered in ‘ESDM for the Team’ sessions 

  • Session 1: Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder and its Impact on a Child’s Development
  • Session 2:  Becoming a Play Partner with the child with ASD
  • Session 3: Using Evidence – Based Teaching Principles to Guide your Practice
  • Session 4: Embedding the Teaching Principles within the Early Years Learning Framework
  • Session 5: Understanding and Responding to Unwanted Behaviours you may be experiencing with your child
  • Session 6: Activities, Materials, Transitions and Teamwork to make it all happen 

Cost: $825 (Includes GST)
6 weekly sessions: 4.00pm – 6.00pm

Course dates for 2023

  • Series 1: Fridays, 14 April - 19 May (x 7 weeks Easter Monday on 10th April) | 4.00pm-6.00pm | BOOK NOW
  • Series 2: Mondays, 17 July - 21 August | 4.00pm-6.00pm | BOOK NOW
  • Series 3: Mondays, 23 October – 27 November | 4.00pm-6.00pm | BOOK NOW

*Please note all courses are conducted online from Wollongong/Sydney, Australia.  Course times from April to September each year are based on Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST), and courses held from October to March are based on Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT). Please double check course times against your Country or City’s local time zone.

For information and enquiries, please email us at

For those Teachers in NSW, Australia, who are including children with Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD) in mainstream settings, please note that completing the Early Start Denver Model for Educators and Therapy Assistants Working with Children with ASD: ‘ESDM for the Team’ will contribute 12 hours of NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) Accredited PD in the priority area of Students/children with Disability addressing standard descriptors 1.1.2, 1.6.2 and 4.1.2 from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient Teacher Accreditation in NSW.

This 3-hour workshop is designed for organisations/teams/professionals wishing to establish a high quality ESDM program as part of their practice, and is followed by regular mentoring sessions as determined by the client. 

For information and enquiries, please email us at

Early Start, at the University of Wollongong,  is now an approved Early Start Denver Model Training Site.

This approval has been granted by Sally Rogers and Geraldine Dawson of the MIND Institute University California Davis and Duke University.

As a training site, we have also received approval for Jasmine Holland, an experienced Certified ESDM Therapist and Early Childhood Teacher (MSc) to become our Apprentice ESDM Trainer. Jasmine will work closely with our Certified Trainer, Elizabeth Aylward, to provide additional ESDM Advanced Workshops and Certification Supervision under Early Start – University of Wollongong. This will increase our capacity to deliver training, certification, research and support into the future.

Woman playing with child in a preschool setting

Support and Inclusion

"The ESDM has had a dramatic impact on the way we are able to support and include children with Autism in our Community Based Preschool.

Educators feel empowered to support and redirect interfering behaviours using the skills and strategies learnt throughout the model and implement these in fun, caring and playful ways."

Director Wongawilli Preschool