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“In a world that is black and white, where a diagnosis often means that the world gives up on a child, Debora Elijah’s centre is a haven of love, hope and support. As a parent of a three year old somewhere ‘on the spectrum’, I feel extremely fortunate to have found Debora and her Early Intervention Centre.
It is often most difficult for children, and especially toddlers, that are on the ‘mild’ end of ASD. Nurseries in the UK are not set up to deal with children with social and communication difficulties and, despite having trained as child educators, they lack the skills to ensure that children reach their full potential.
It is easy to overlook a child with ASD, letting them spend their nursery days in an aimless fashion. It is easy to ‘leave them be’ as long as they seem happy, potentially overlooking that they might be lonely as they are unable to access social groups. Debora never takes the easy route and doesn't give up. Instead of saying that we will support the child through his or her life, Debora says we will teach the child the necessary social skills that they need
Debora’s centre is a unique offering in the UK. Instead of splitting up the child’s support therapies and at different venues around London with different therapists, Debora’s centre offers everything in one place: social and communication skills, sensory activities, independent skills, OT, speech therapy and Physiotherapy. But apart from all these support services, there is one key difference between Debora’s approach and other professionals that I have encountered: to Debora, the children are not patients or clients. Each of them is a little person brimming with potential. If we can harness that potential, and not give up on children with mild ASD, there is a great chance that these children will become fully functioning members of society.”
" I have only known Dr Elijah and her team for 5/6 months but within this time frame their hard work, dedication, efforts and huge support have significantly changed our lives. We have moved from uncertainty and not knowing which direction to turn to having direction, goals and milestones to reach to help our son on his road of development.
Our son has developed normally reaching all his milestones but not long before he was two I started getting concerned about his speech and hearing. He started to display some traits and characteristics that were also concerning but my prime concern was his speech. Other people like to tell you that all children have ‘odd’ behaviours, that children go through ‘phases’ and that they all develop in different ways and in their own time. So not to worry. But I did.
We took him to have a hearing test and it went well. We took him to see an ENT specialist and they said he didn’t have glue ear. Even though these results were good, he was still not responding and engaging when we spoke to him. Nursery suggested we go to the doctor and we were offered a paediatrician on the nhs. . She said he was only 2years 5months so too young to diagnose and to come back in 6 months. In the meantime she offered me speech therapy which we received 7 months later. We had our own private speech therapist too. She definitely started our son to engage more and develop eye contact but progress was slow and nothing really seemed to happen. We met Dr Elijah a couple of months after the paediatrician visit.
Since meeting Dr Elijah my eyes have been opened and I now know where our son had/has delays in his development and what we can actually do to help him. Dr Elijah took us back to basics in terms of what we should be expecting at each stage of development and gave us activities to do each week in order to hit those development milestones. After a couple of months of 2 weekly sessions we then began at The Centre. The Centre reinforces the 1-2-1 activities but in a simulated nursery environment. Our son loves it there. It seems to bring out the best in him. It is intense, focused and constant work consisting of 1-2-1 activities, reading, OT, speech therapy and so on. All the key skills needed to help develop the children and allow them to function well in a normal nursery school environment. They work very hard there but it gives the children a huge sense of achievement and fulfilment once they have accomplished their tasks.
If my son is happy there, I am happy for him to be there. They work very hard for him at the centre and as a parent I work consistently hard with him at home to help him reach his set targets. The homework and activities at home are as important as the work in the centre. The more work we put into the activities, hopefully the more results we see. It is never an easy journey. Each piece of work can be a challenge and an emotional rollercoaster when he doesn’t want to do it but Dr Elijah likes to tell me ‘you must’, so I do.
I cannot praise Dr Elijah and her team enough for the commitment to the work they do and for driving each child forward to reaching their full potential."
"Our son was diagnosed with high functioning autism at the age of 4.5 years. Up until that point, we struggled to understand why our son did not respond to us in the way that our other children had done. His language was unintelligible which made it hard to decipher his needs causing distress for all concerned and he would not make eye contact with us. He also seemed distant with us and preferred to play on his own rather than with other children. In one way we felt relieved once his autism had been diagnosed. However, it was also distressing for us as parents to understand how we could make his life better and give him the same opportunities enjoyed by his neurotypical peers.
Fortunately, we were introduced to Dr Debora Elijah and have never looked back. We found her commitment and intensity of support to be exactly what our son needed. From the outset, we noticed positive and dramatic changes in his behaviour despite having only attended sessions for a couple of hours per week.
We will always remember the day that our son was taught the Makaton gesture which means ‘look at me’. For the first time, our son made eye contact with us and engaged in a short conversation. Later on he could say and gesture, ‘Mum, look at me’ or ‘Dad, look at me’. The experience was life-changing for us all. With Dr Elijah’s support, our son became instantly engaged and with each week that goes by, he develops more and more.
Things have now changed at a rapid rate for our son. He responds to his name, instructions and verbal cues in general. Similarly, he now likes to ask when, where, what, why and who and looks at things we point to which he did not do before. He also has much more of a succinct understanding of different emotions and facial expressions from sorrow and sadness to shock and joy. In addition, our son has also become more affectionate and comfortable with physical contact and is starting to enjoy ball games and activities which require some coordination.
Our son has just turned 5 years old and will be starting school in September. In just six months, his development has been immense and he is almost unrecognisable when we compare his behaviour now to his 4.5 year old self.
We still have a long journey ahead of us. However, we do consider ourselves to have been exceptionally lucky to have been introduced to Dr Elijah and witnessed such positive changes in our son. We highly recommend Dr Elijah’s Early Intervention Centre as well as her personal dedication, commitment and professionalism which has ensured the best possible start for our son."