In the state of Missouri, autism is a growing phenomenon affecting a significant minority of young children. For example, according to the latest research, it is estimated that 1 in every 70 children (1 in 43 boys and 1 in 200 girls) are affected by autism. These figures are similar to the average estimate of children identified with autism (1 in 68) in all areas of the United States. Consequently, there is a growing need to support this heterogeneous population of children through early intervention underpinned by empirical evidence. The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is one of several evidence-based interventions for children with autism, ages 12 to 48 months. The purpose of this commentary article is twofold. First, the paper provides a brief but informative overview of ESDM research. Second, the paper discusses the ESDM program in the context of St. Louis Arc, a non-profit agency supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families to lead better lives. The intended audience for this paper includes parents of children with or at risk for autism, Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs), occupational and speech therapists, general and special education teachers, and non-profit organizations providing clinical and community outreach programs for children with or at risk of autism.
Michael Quinn*, Theresa Strothkamp and Andrea Seper-Roper