Early Intervention


Combined Interventions

The Early Start Denver Model

The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is a comprehensive, play-based program that uses naturalistic ABA strategies to target the core deficits of autism, such as emotion sharing, attention, joint attention (use of gestures and gaze to share attention), imitation and play.

The ESDM is intensive (20 hours a week) and can be carried out at home as well as at centres. It is supported by some good quality research and is likely to be increasingly available with time.

Early Start Denver Model — Raising Children Network


LEAP (Learning Experiences – An Alternative Program for Preschoolers and Parents) is a comprehensive preschool service, where children with autism are taught alongside typically developing children.

LEAP has the components of an integrated preschool program and a behaviour skills training program for parents. The program contains aspects of behavioural analysis, but it is primarily a developmentally-based approach.

Long term outcomes are currently being evaluated; however, independent evaluation is required to determine effectiveness.

The SCERTS Model

SCERTS is a comprehensive program that treats the core symptoms of autism in three main areas:

  • Social Communication
  • Emotional Regulation
  • Transactional Support — providing support for social interaction across all settings

It draws on TEACCH, developmental and naturalistic ABA methods as required, based on an assessment of an individual child’s strengths and needs. The SCERTS Model favours having children with ASD learn from typically developing children, encouraging inclusion as much as possible.

Many of the individual components of the SCERTS are supported by research with recent studies suggesting some positive effects for the program as a whole in both the home and school settings.

SCERTS® Model — Raising Children Network

More Than Words

Hanen’s ‘More than Words’ is an intensive family-based training program, designed to promote communication skills in preschool children with autism spectrum disorder.

More Than Words is based on the ‘social-pragmatic’ theory of language development, that children learn to communicate through everyday naturally occurring interactions with parents and carers. It blends of aspects of both behavioural and developmental programs, breaking down activities into small steps and providing opportunities for children to use language for functional purposes through the use of naturalistic behavioural techniques.

More Than Words is not intended to replace other intensive interventions for children with ASD but is designed to give parents skills to support these other treatments.

Early studies suggest that the program has some positive outcomes for children and families; however, more research is needed to confirm its effectiveness.

More Than Words — Raising Children Network


TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communications Handicapped Children) is a ‘whole of life’ approach aimed at supporting children, adolescents, and adults with autism through the use of ‘structured teaching’ provision of visual information, physical structure, and predictability.

TEACCH — Raising Children Network