Early intervention explained
History - Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre - Margot Prior Wing
In 2008 the La Trobe University Community Children's Centre, in collaboration with the Olga Tennsion Autism Research Centre (OTARC) and the Royal Children's Hospital, received funding for the establishment of the Victorian Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre (ASELCC). This is one of six ASELCCs funded by the Federal Government under the Helping Children with Autism Package.
Located at the La Trobe University Children's Centre, our ASELCC playrooms are situated in the purpose built wing known as the Margot Prior Wing (MPW). The ASELCC-MPW was formally opened on 19 July, 2010 to provide an early learning program for children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) aged 0-6 years within a long day care setting. The centre also provides parents with support in the care of their children and gives them the opportunity to participate more fully in the community.
Early Start Denver Model (ESDM)
The early intervention program being implemented in the ASELCC-MPW is the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM). The ESDM was developed by Professors Sally Rogers and Geraldine Dawson from the MIND Institute at the University of California. The staff at the ASELCC-MPW are certified in the delivery of the ESDM following training from Professor Rogers and her colleagues. Dr Cynthia Zierhut from the MIND Institute also was employed at the ASELCC-MPW for 12 months and this has provided invaluable training and support in the implementation ESDM in a group environment.
The ESDM is a manualised treatment designed especially for children with autism spectrum disorders. The model has a solid evidence base (Rogers & Dawson 2010). It is an individually tailored, developmental, behavioural and relationship-based intervention program, designed for use in a naturalistic and inclusive group environment. It is implemented by a transdisciplinary team of child care workers, teachers and allied health professionals (psychologist; occupational therapist; speech pathologist). Parent understanding of and implementation of the model is a key component of the ESDM. Information and support sessions for parents are conducted annually at the ASELCC-MPW where they learn about the ESDM philosophy in group training sessions and have the opportunity to apply this knowledge in practice through individualise support. For more details about the ESDM please see the following links.
The Early Start Denver Model has been shown to produce cost savings in the long-term by reducing subsequent need for therapy and support services as discussed at the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR).
The ASELCC-MPW has a strong emphasis on research and actively contributes to the evidence base to help achieve a better understanding and increase workforce capacity within ASD. We have a Research Fellow who coordinates the evaluation of our intervention in addition to other research project. The ASELCC-MPW relationship with OTARC (see OTARC website) provide a solid foundation for the research at the centre. See the Research and Points of Interest section of our website for more information.
Staff at the ASELCC-MPW have the capacity to train other professionals in the ESDM. For training requests within or outside of Australia, please see our training section and/or contact our ESDM training team for more information.