Early Intervention

Early Intervention Therapy

High quality, early intervention can transform a child living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or neuro-developmental delay.

At a young age, a child’s brain demonstrates greater plasticity, which enhances their ability to develop new skills for communication and social interaction.

The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) practiced at the Child Development Institute (CDI) is specifically designed for the treatment of children aged between 12 months and 5 years. It is structured around play and child choice to increase motivation and a child’s propensity to learn.

We have a range of services that deliver the ESDM to children, their families and educators working in Mainstream early childhood education and care settings.


ESDM Assessment

An ESDM Assessment is a comprehensive developmental assessment specifically designed for young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It reveals what a child is capable of and exactly where to begin our teaching.

Parents are fully informed of the outcomes of their child’s assessment and receive a detailed report and personalised teaching plan, which they can use at home and for NDIS funding applications.

Parents also receive a parent manual ‘An Early Start for your Child with Autism’, to help them better understand ASD and their child’s neuro-developmental delay.

ESDM Clinic Program

The ESDM Clinic is the ideal introduction to the play partner approach of the ESDM. It prepares a child for both future therapies including ESDM Small Group Therapy.

The ESDM clinic is a high quality, highly intensive, one-to-one therapy with a certified ESDM therapist. The goal is to bridge the learning gaps that have accumulated over time and to construct the building blocks a child needs for social interaction.

1:1 sessions are delivered within a clinic setting and run for 1 hour, during which time all goals are targeted.

The therapist will intersperse table top activities such as playdough, craft or lego, with sensory social routines such as songs and games.

Your child’s Therapist will take data to track progress and collaborate with parents each week about progress.

The 1:1 Clinic is the foundation of all children’s ESDM programs.

To achieve the best outcomes, children should ideally attend 1 or 2 clinic sessions per week, as well as other relevant ESDM programs.


Early Childhood
Social Therapy Group

This ESDM Program is an intensive program targeting the skills needed by children with ASD to participate fully in everyday life and to be included effectively in a mainstream community education setting.

This group program facilitates the child’s learning, mastery and generalisation of:

  • Imitation skills, so they can learn from others;
  • Social skills with adults and peers;
  • Communication skills;
  • Self independence skills and skills for transitioning between activities and participating in structured group times.

The focus of the intervention is to target individual goals that work towards the child’s inclusion into natural settings and bringing the child back into the social loop.

If this program is combined with ESDM 1:1 Clinic sessions, we can optimise your child’s developmental progress.


Is the Social Therapy Group suitable for my child?

This program is suitable for children who are:

  • not yet attending a Mainstream education setting
  • are enrolled in Childcare or Preschool but are not settling or fully participating in the programs

School Readiness Program

The CDI School Readiness Program (SRP) has been developed to equip children with any developmental delays including ASD, with the necessary skills to enter their school setting with greater confidence and improved social skills.

Operating across 2 classrooms, the program is tailored to accommodate children who will be entering a Mainstream school setting, or a Supported school setting (School for Specific Purpose or a Support Unit within a mainstream school).

The program is led by Early Childhood Teachers & Occupational Therapists who have been trained to deliver the Early Start Denver Model.

Each session will be structured to reflect a typical Kindergarten environment.

Focus areas include:

  • Peer-to-peer relationships
  • Social awareness
  • Confidence and involvement
  • Fine motor strength and co-ordination
  • Cognitive skills
  • Personal independence skills expected of children in Kindergarten


The aim of our program is to support each child to build and secure a strong sense of belonging, to develop their self-confidence and respond appropriately to others around them. We strive to facilitate a positive attitude and motivation towards learning, to experience success in a supportive educational environment.

Through play-based learning and intentionally planned experiences, while combining ESDM objectives and principles, the children will be supported to develop foundational skills in a group environment to better equip them for a smooth and successful transition to school.

Is my child ready for a
School Readiness Program?

The School Readiness Program is suitable for children who are: 

  • currently attending a pre-school or long day-care education setting
  • accessing other therapies to support a smooth transition to school eg. ESDM, Speech or Occupational Therapy
  •  commencing school in the next 12 – 18 months.
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ESDM in Mainstream

The ESDM in Mainstream program was developed with the aim of supporting children within their early childhood setting and to provide guidance and strategies to their educators.  Our staff will visit your child’s centre, work with them directly as well as guiding their mainstream educators, enhancing inclusion and participation.

Your child will be supported to be included effectively into their mainstream environment through their individualised goals, guided practice and collaboration with their mainstream staff, helping them to generalise the skills learnt in the Social Therapy Group and/or ESDM Clinic.

Is ESDM in Mainstream suitable for my child’s centre?

The Mainstream Support program is suitable for your child’s Early Education service if the Centre is:

  • Open to engage with external services
  • Willing to collaboratively reflect on practice and identify barriers and strategies to support the inclusion of children with Autism and/or Developmental Delay

Click here for more information on this program.

Program Reviews

At the CDI, we operate a policy of continuous monitoring and adjustment for all children. In addition, each child’s program of support must be formally reviewed every quarter. At which point, new objectives and teaching plans are set and aligned to a child’s progress and their family’s priorities.

A 1.5 hour meeting will be scheduled with parents during each term break, during which you will discuss with your child’s Key Worker their progress and priorities for next term’s program.

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