Unicorn ESDM Scholarships Available for Children with Autism
With little Addison scampering around the room, Jocelyn and Vince sit on a sofa discussing the family’s amazing experience after completing Unicorn’s Early Star Denver Model (ESDM) Parent Coaching Scholarship for parents of toddlers and preschoolers with autism. Unicorn’s scholarship program teaches parents effective techniques for incorporating learning opportunities into play and every-day routines.
Jocelyn bubbles with enthusiasm when describing how wonderfully enriching the program was for 2-year-old Addison. “She’s gone from not speaking to talking up a storm. We are so excited to share this information,” Jocelyn says. “It’s made such a difference in her life.”
The program offered by Unicorn Children’s Foundation follows the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM), the only evidence-based therapy specifically for children with autism, ages 12 months to 48 months. The emphasis on an early start is critical for enhancing social skills and other developmental achievements in children 12-48 months of age, as well as in decreasing parental stress in families. Research indicates that children make greater gains in social communication and also in improved behavior when parents receive parent-coaching in evidence-based strategies. …Research further indicates that children who receive Early Start Denver Model therapy have less need for special services later in life.
Unicorn Children’s Foundation is especially pleased to offer scholarships for eligible Florida families, providing wider access to this noteworthy program. Parents who are awarded ESDM scholarships pay little or no fees to participate, thanks in part to the public’s support through donations. Each family receives 14 individualized coaching meetings with Melissa Burkhardt of Early Start Therapy, whose impressive credentials include board certification as a behavior analyst (BCBA) and certification as an ESDM therapist and Parent Coach. Her expertise is in the area of early intervention and autism. Jocyeln describes her family’s experience, “The principles in ESDM are meant to be built into everyday living. We learned how to eliminate distractions and capture Addison’s attention. Another key difference that we learned right away was how to follow Addison’s lead, and the value in doing so. Over the next several weeks, we learned how to create fun routines from songs and games, and how to teach the back and forth structure of joint activities that we learned during parent coaching training. Everything was truly built into activities of daily living, such as meal times, diapering, chores, and bath-time routines. We learned how to take our everyday routine, and build meaningful learning experiences throughout each of these activities. This is the greatest gift, and there are no words to describe my gratitude to Melissa and to the Unicorn Children’s Foundation, ESDM Parent Coaching Scholarship. ”
As with Jocelyn and Vince, other parents who have participated say the program empowered them with knowledge and skills that are valuable for their families to use now and into the future.
“It taught us that we are not just parents, we are teachers,” one parent said. “It also helped us in understanding the best way to have the most functional life for our child and ourselves.”
Another parent stated, “My son and I are happier, argue less, and have a more harmonious relationship.”
Applications for ESDM scholarships from Florida residents are accepted any time and will be considered during an Open Enrollment period, typically scheduled for May 1-31 and October 1-31 of each year. Detailed qualification requirements and an application form are available online at: https://www.unicornchildrensfoundation.org/esdm.html. To qualify for an EDSM scholarships, a child must be within the age range of 12 months to 48 months at the start of the Open Enrollment period in which the application is to be considered.
For those inspired to support the program, tax-deductible donations for ESDM scholarships are encouraged and appreciated. For additional information on the Early Start Denver Model scholarship offered by Unicorn Children’s Foundation, or to make a donation, visit the website at: unicornchildrensfoundation.org
95% of parents reported an increase in skills and knowledge to implement teaching of crucial developmental skills into their child’s daily routines compared to 23% prior to starting the program.
“The most helpful thing I learned was that everything we do with my son is a learning opportunity.”
100% of parents reported having the skills and knowledge to help their child build joint attention skills compared to 35% prior to starting the program.
“This has changed my life and my son’s life forever. Now I have a level of skill in dealing with problem behavior that I never had before. My son and I are happier, argue less, and have a more harmonious relationship. I’m confident that I can continue to build upon those skills as life progresses.”
95% of parents reported having the skills and knowledge to utilize behavioral principles to improve their child's undesirable behavior compared to 30% prior to starting the program.
“Learning how to work with your child can provide major long term benefits for them and for those who can’t afford traditional therapy.”
95% of parents reported having the skills and knowledge to support their child in becoming an effective communicator compared to 35% prior to starting the program.
“I suggest to keep on having this great service for families and children in need. This has been life changing for me and I cannot be more thankful.”
95% of parents reported having the skills and knowledge to use their child's interests to enhance their child's learning compared to 35% prior to starting the program.
“This program has changed our lives so much. All of our many therapists (ABA, BCBA, speech,OT) wanted to know what we were doing differently. Now our BCBA is willing to practice the techniques we learned into our regular daily therapy. I know Addison will continue to improve because of it. It's nice as a parent to feel armed with skills and knowledge like this that I couldn't get anywhere else.”
95% of parents reported having the skills and knowledge to effectively advocate on behalf of their child compared to 61% prior to starting the program.
“I would only hope that this program grows and that there were more locations like this a little closer to where I live and nationwide. We needed the life skills we learned here to better take care of our child. I definitely came out of this course with tools I needed to use, discover, and rediscover to better take care of my daughter. I'm so grateful, and I could never express this enough.”