Our Approach

July 2019-photo-Jodie Barker-44

Vision and Purpose

We work towards a world where children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can participate fully in their communities. 

The CDI exists to realise this vision.

It is our opinion that the ESDM is a most effective therapy for children experiencing neuro-developmental delay. 

Consequently, the CDI is committed to improving the quality of therapy and training to empower children, their families and wider support network.

We believe in collaboration and actively pursue partnerships to help remove the barriers and enable young lives to thrive.

What is Neurodiversity?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is the name for a wide range of differences in individual brain functions and behaviour characteristics. It is a lifelong developmental disorder that varies greatly between people.

Typically, ASD affects a child’s communication and social interaction, and is characterised by restrictive and repetitive behaviour. For example, ASD can affect both verbal and non-verbal communication. A child may demonstrate delayed or repetitive language or in other cases, no speech at all.

A child living with ASD may struggle to build relationships. They may face challenges sharing emotions or showing an awareness for others. Scientists cannot conclusively state what causes ASD other than it is a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

There is no cure for a child experiencing neurodevelopment delay. However, the ESDM is proven to enhance a child’s functional skills so that they can communicate, connect with others and live more independent lives.

What is Inclusion?

At the CDI, we define inclusion as the right of every child to participate fully in their community alongside their same-aged peers.

Children living with neurodiversity are often marginalised and placed on the periphery by education authorities, healthcare professionals and by society. In our view this is wrong, and the CDI exists to address this injustice.

Diversity and neurodiversity are strengths. So, a child that thinks and acts differently should not be considered ill, damaged or wrong. To the contrary, many children experiencing neuro-developmental delays possess exceptional gifts. But without intervention targeting functional skills for communication and building relationships, those gifts may not be realised.

Every child deserves the right to participate and belong. Inclusion simply requires a different approach to our teaching when working with children with ASD.

What is the ESDM?

The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is a manualised, evidence-based intervention that incorporates a comprehensive curriculum and a set of teaching principles, which have been specifically designed for preschool children with ASD. The principles are informed by developmental psychology research, applied behaviour analysis and the expertise of health and early education professionals (Rogers and Dawson, 2010).

At the CDI, we consider the ESDM as the most effective therapy for children with ASD and their families, health professionals and educators. Its naturalistic core is of particular importance. It means the ESDM can be taught and practiced across multiple learning environments by certified ESDM therapists, parents and ESDM trained educators.

The ESDM is play and routine-based and begins with child choice, which increases their motivation to participate. We consider this important because the more motivated a child is the faster their rate of learning.

Research and Resources

The ESDM is proven to work in both a one-to-one and group setting and there is a growing body of evidence to suggest it can also be effective in a mainstream setting, if delivered by ESDM trained educators. A selection of published research studies and information is available via the links below.

Links to Research:

Giacomo Vivanti, Cheryl Dissanayake, Cynthia Zierhut, Sally J. Rogers & the Victorian ASELCC Team.

Annette Estes, Laurie Vismara, Carla Mercado, Annette Fitzpatrick, Lauren Elder, Jessica Greenson, Catherine Lord, Jeffrey Munson, Jamie Winter, Gregory Young, Geraldine Dawson, Sally J. Rogers.

Zuleyha Cidav, Jeff Munson, Annette Estes, Geraldine Dawson, Sally Rogers, David Mandell.

Giacomo Vivanti, Jessica Paynter, Ed Duncan, Hannah Fothergill, Cheryl Dissanayake, Sally J. Rogers, the Victorian ASELCC Team.

Geraldine Dawson, Sally J. Rogers, Jeffrey Munson, Milani Smith, Jamie Winter, Jessica Greenson, Amy Donaldson, Jennifer Varley.

Links to Resources: