Early Start Lab Mission Statement

The mission of the Early Start lab is to design, study, and deliver effective interventions for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families. We value collaborative, reciprocal relationships with clients, families, trainees, community members and colleagues. We are committed to life-long learning: for persons with ASD, for University and community learners, and for ourselves as autism scientists and interventionists. The goal of our work is to improve the quality of life for each person with ASD, characterized by personal feelings of efficacy, meaningful inclusion in community, individual exploration of interests and use of talents, and satisfying relationships. This goal requires both access to high quality education and treatment for all persons with ASD and the public’s commitment to supporting each person with ASD.

What is the ESDM?

At the heart of the ESDM is the empirical knowledge-base of infant-toddler learning and development and the effects of early autism.  ESDM intervention is provided in the home by trained therapists and parents during natural play and daily routines.  ESDM is a relationship-based intervention, and involves the parents and families; An Early Start for your Child with Autism, is a parent's guide to using everyday activities to help kids connect, communicate, and learn.  The aim of ESDM is to increase the rates of the development in all domains for children with ASD as it simultaneously aims to decrease the symptoms of autism.  In particular, this intervention focuses on boosting children’s social-emotional, cognitive, and language, as development in these domains is particularly affected by autism.  ESDM also uses a data based approach and empirically supported teaching practices that have been found effective from research in applied behavior analysis. ESDM fuses behavioral, relationship-based, and a developmental, play-based approach into an integrated whole that is completely individualized and yet standardized.

Professionals Interested in Becoming ESDM Certified or Hosting a Workshop?

Families Interested in ESDM or Seeking ESDM Treatment

Dear Parents,


We have published treatment manuals for therapists and parents that are available to the public at large (including you!), as a service to the community. Thus, any professional may read about our approach and incorporate features of it in their own treatment.  For professionals who wish to master ESDM techniques, we offer a rigorous training program, and anyone who has completed our training has achieved certification as an ESDM Therapist in direct delivery of ESDM to children.  In addition to certified ESDM Therapists, we also train and certify ESDM Trainers who are who are able to train and certify ESDM Therapists.  Finally, we offer a training program for ESDM Therapists who wish to learn how to coach parents in ESDM.  Our certified ESDM Parent Coaches have mastered the methods we use to coach parents to embed ESDM practices in their everyday lives with their children throughout the day and in all settings.  All certified ESDM therapists, trainers and parent coaches across the world are listed on our website, along with their contact information, and our lists are updated monthly, to help you find trained therapists.  


If you are in a location in which there are no certified therapists nearby, it is possible that an ESDM certified Parent Coach could help you set up and deliver the intervention to your child at home as a fee-based service.  The parent-delivered ESDM intervention is described in the parent manual – An Early Start for Your Child with Autism - which we wrote as a self- help book for you and is available on line, and in several languages.  Many parents have used the manual to develop new activities and teaching strategies for their children, and they report much success.   We will be developing self- instructional materials for parents over the next year, and as soon as we test them to make sure they help parents and children, we will make them available to you.  In addition,  ESDM Trainers are skilled at training other professionals who work with your child and are interested in learning ESDM, if you want to bring in training for your child’s team. 


Sally J. Rogers, Ph.D.

Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

The M.I.N.D. Institute

University of California Davis Medical Center