Early Start Denver Model Training and Workshops

UOW Early Start is now offering workshops and professional development on the Early Start Denver Model.

What is the Early Start Denver Model?

The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is a play-based intervention, specifically designed for young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Focusing on routine and play, it integrates both behavioural and developmental principles to empower children with ASD to become active participants in the world around them.  

ESDM aims to increase the development of play skills, social skills and communication, while also decreasing the symptoms of autism. Research has found that ESDM can significantly improve cognitive and adaptive behaviours of children with ASD. 

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. 

ESDM was developed by Professors Sally Rogers and Geraldine Dawson at the MIND Institute, University of California Davis. Early Start, at the University of Wollongong, is one of four places in the world outside of the USA which is approved as an ESDM training site.

Training and workshops

Given the increasing evidence around ESDM effectiveness and the increasing need for effective treatments for early ASD, more and more practitioners in community settings are seeking to implement ESDM practices within their settings.

The courses and workshops will be run by certified ESDM trainer, Elizabeth Aylward. One of only 4 certified trainers in Australia, Elizabeth is a Community Engagement Coordinator at UOW Early Start. She has been teaching the ESDM since 2010 and has trained more than 200 professionals and given guidance to many parents over the past 10 years. Elizabeth has also completed her Doctor of Philosophy in Autsim Intervention at the University of Wollongong.

In order to respond to the needs of the community, UOW Early Start, will be providing four levels of training and professional development.

Please note: These workshops have been transferred to an online environment as a result of restrictions during the COVID-19 crisis.

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 half day 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 online EARLY START DENVER MODEL INTRODUCTORY WORKSHOP, complete this 8 hour online introductory workshop before participating in the ESDM Advanced workshop. This is a compulsory pre-requisite. 

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.


Workshops include a half-day session over 6 weeks.

Cost: $1,980 (includes GST) per participant.

Contact the ESDM training coordinator to book on esdm-professionaldevelopment@uow.edu.au

ESDM Advanced Workshop Schedule January – June 2022

  • WORKSHOP 1: Tuesday, 11 January – Tuesday, 15 February - FULL
  • WORKSHOP 2: Wednesday, 12 January – Wednesday, 23 February - FULL
  • WORKSHOP 3: Tuesday, 8 March – Tuesday, 12 April - FULL
  • WORKSHOP 4: Wednesday, 9 March – Wednesday, 13 April - FULL              
  • WORKSHOP 5: Tuesday, 3 May - Tuesday, 7 June - FULL
  • WORKSHOP 6: Wednesday, 4 May - Wednesday, 8 June - FULL
  • WORKSHOP 7: Tuesday, 21 June – Tuesday, 2 August 
  • WORKSHOP 8: Wednesday, 22 June – Wednesday, 3 August 
  • WORKSHOP 9: Tuesday, 16 August – Tuesday, 20 September
  • WORKSHOP 10: Wednesday 17 August – Wednesday, 21 September
  • WORKSHOP 11: Tuesday, 25 October – Tuesday, 29 November
  • WORKSHOP 12: Wednesday, 26 October – Wednesday, 30 November

Please contact the ESDM training co-ordinator to obtain an application form.  Please forward your Introductory Certificate if completed: esdm-professionaldevelopment@uow.edu.au

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. You will also receive monthly booster coaching sessions from your Certified Trainer to 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: $1,850 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 esdm-professionaldevelopment@uow.edu.au

This course is designed for educators and therapy assistants in mainstream Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) services 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 Unwanted Behaviours
  • 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 2022

  • Series 1: Tuesdays, 8 February - 15 March | 4.00pm-6.00pm | BOOK NOW
  • Series 2: Tuesdays, 24 May - 28 June | 4.00pm-6.00pm | BOOK NOW
  • Series 3: Tuesdays, 4 October – 8 November | 4.00pm-6.00pm | BOOK NOW

This course is designed for parents and carers of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other developmental disorders. Families may use NDIS funding for the full cost of the course (Parent Capacity Building).

Course sessions, delivered online via zoom, are designed specifically for the home setting, so that parents learn how to embed the ESDM teaching principles in everyday routines.

Each week we will learn the strategies to turn everyday activities and routines into opportunities to promote your child’s communication, behaviour and learning.

Topics covered in ‘ESDM for the Home’ sessions

  • Session 1: Understanding ASD and its Impact on Your Child’s Development
  • Session 2:  Becoming a Play Partner with Your Child in Everyday Routines and Activities
  • Session 3: Using the ESDM Principles to Guide all of Your Interactions with your Child at Home
  • Session 4: Activities and Materials that will Support the Interactions you have with Your Child
  • Session 5: Understanding and Managing and Unwanted Behaviours you may be experiencing with your child 

Cost: $858 (Includes GST)
5 weekly sessions: 10.00am-11.30am 

Course dates for 2022

  • Series 1 Start: Wednesday, 9 February, 2022 10-11:30am | BOOK NOW
  • Series 2 Start: Wednesday, 25 May, 2022 10-11:30am | BOOK NOW
  • Series 3 Start: Wednesday, 5 October, 2022 10-11:30am | BOOK NOW

This 12 week program is designed to support parents to incorporate the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) techniques into their everyday routines at home with their young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Families may use NDIS funding for the full cost of the workshop (Parent Capacity Building).

Parent coaching founded on clinical knowledge and coaching practices uses the same values and techniques that are at the heart of the ESDM. This approach sees parents as experts and partners in the intervention process. The majority of activities in the session focus on parents interacting with their children in their own routines. The ESDM therapist serves as a coach, a supportive person whose goal is to assist the parents to achieve their goals for their child and for themselves. 

Coaching is scheduled for an hour each week and can be done in person, in the clinic setting at Early Start University of Wollongong or delivered via zoom into your home. 

This program is an appropriate starting point for your child after diagnosis. Following the completion of this program, you and your child will be referred to the ESDM Early Intervention Service for direct child therapy. 

Cost: $1,440.00 plus GST for 12 sessions (fully funded by NDIS)

To schedule your sessions or to have an initial conversation email us at esdm-professionaldevelopment@uow.edu.au

Support for you and your child

ESDM One-on-One Direct Therapy for your child

This program is offered to children who are awaiting their NDIS Funding and delivered by our ESDM Advanced Trainees, as part of their Certification Program – one hour per week
Venue: Early Start, UOW or via zoom during lockdown
To schedule your sessions, obtain cost details or have an initial conversation email us at esdm-professional@uow.edu.au 


ESDM Child Assessment

This is a comprehensive developmental assessment that is completed by a Certified ESDM Therapist to enable you and your child to participate in our Parent ESDM Coaching Program.  
Venue: Early Start, UOW or via zoom during lockdown
To schedule your sessions, obtain cost details or have an initial conversation email us at esdm-professional@uow.edu.au 


ESDM Assessment Report to NDIS

This is offered to families who wish to access our services and require reporting for NDIS funding applications.
To have an initial conversation and obtain cost details email us at esdm-professional@uow.edu.au

The ESDM Educator workshop series has been one of our best investments in capacity building of our educators and working towards inclusive and respectful education and care. This has shifted the mindset of the educators and provided them with a research based and evidence based lens to look at their everyday program as well as working alongside children with special needs. Kavita Bali Pedagogical Leader (Kensington Community Children’s Co-operative)

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.