Autism and intervention

Written by: Dr Debora Elijah
Edited by: Lisa Heffernan

Autism is more common than most people think, with around 700,000 people living with autism in the UK, that’s more than one in every 100. While it is incurable, it can be managed with the right support and through intervention programs.


Neuropsychologist Doctor Debora Elijah talks about signs of autism to look out for and how intervention programs like PROSCIG © 2013 (Social Cognitive Intervention Program in peer groups) can help children who are autistic.

Symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Not responding to their name when called upon
  • No or limited eye contact
  • Getting upset if they don’t like a certain smell, taste or sound
  • Not talking as much to other children
  • Playing alone, with the same toy/object


Helping children with autism

The intervention provided at the Elijah Centre is a unique, individualised, holistic approach using a unique program called PROSCIG © (Social Cognitive Intervention Program in peer groups). It is the only program in London that uses a social cognitive approach, with an individualised method that involves all areas of child development. The program is conducted on a day by day basis, over a few weeks to months, depending on how many sessions each individual child needs.


PROSCIG© is a generalist intervention program, divided into three modules of socio-cognitive collaborative learning. It’s made up of a series of structured activities and exercises that are designed to improve a child’s social and communication skills:

  • Social perception
  • Social problem-solving skills
  • Self-monitoring/regulation


Social perception: concerns the ability to absorb, understand and correctly interpret the meaning of information that comes from the psychosocial context and interaction with peers. It’s the basis of social interactions and consists of forming impressions about others. How we perceive situations is related to the social groups of the individual.


Social problem solving: consists of the identification of the existence and nature of a psychosocial problem. It involves determining objectives in each situation, creating alternative possible responses within a group, the prevention of possible consequences and choosing the response likely to lead to positive results. It also involves the planning and execution of the chosen response.


Self-regulation: this is an active process guided by one’s goals and their effort to monitor, regulate and control their thoughts, behaviours and motivation to achieve these goals.


The program is divided into the following groups:

  • Children between the ages of 2 - 5 (early intervention)
  • Children between the ages of 5 - 11
  • Children transitioning from primary school to high school
  • Teenagers
  • Young adults


Can a child with autism lead a normal life?

Yes, a child can lead a normal life, the quality of their life improves when they receive social communication skills intervention, as published in Dr Elijah's research papers.


Every child is unique and the PROSCIG© pathway addresses each child’s individual strengths and developmental needs. The program builds children’s confidence, assertiveness, self-esteem and increases their levels of cooperation.


If your child has autism/ADHD or social communication challenges and you’d like to talk with a specialist about intervention programs, you can contact Doctor Debora Elijah via Top Doctors.

By Dr Debora Elijah

Professor Dr Debora Elijah is a highly esteemed cognitive neuropsychologist, practising privately at the Elijah Social Cognitive Skills Centre in North London. Dr Elijah attends to a range of age groups from 20 months old to young adults, specialising in building social communication skills, ASD, ADHD, self-regulation and anxiety. She is renowned for her holistic approach, treating everyone as an individual, offering treatment that is tailored specifically to that individual.

Dr Elijah graduated with a degree in neuropsychology from University Louvain La Nueve before studying and completing her PhD in Clinical Cognitive Psychology, Social Psychology and Educational Psychology at Fernando Pessoa University. She was trained by Theo Peeters, a Belgian neurolinguist at the Centre for Training in Autism in Antwerp, Belgium. In Antwerp, she was the Joint Director of Tikvatenu, a centre for social communication skills. She also spent time in Brazil conducting research into structured and non-structured environments for autistic children and children with communication disorders, which was supported by the Brazilian Government. At the same time, she was a founder of CIAPEMA, a centre of research and intervention for young high functioning children with autism and related communication disorders.
She was also a lead researcher in the Process Cognitive Psychology group at the Pontifical Catholic University in Rio Grande do Sul.

Dr Elijah returned to the UK in 2000 and has since worked in her own private practice and for two different charities. She developed a programme called PROSCIG©​, an intervention programme dealing with social perception, self-regulation and social problem-solving. She also works at Harley Street Family Centre as a cognitive neuropsychologist and HCPC registered educational consultant. 

Her work has been globally recognised and she has appeared in numerous news articles. Her book The Social Cognitive Mind in Promoting Psychosocial Competences in the Peer Group was published in Portugal in 2014. Dr Elijah also received special mention in the book Autism: How To Raise A Happy Autistic Child by award-winning The Times journalist Jessie Hewitson.

Dr Elijah was appointed as Professor in 2020 of Autism Spectrum and Alternative Communication, as well as being a social sciences coordinator, delivering lectures in Autism Spectrum Disorder and Increased Alternative Communication Module at the Fernando Pessoa University.

The graduatecourse at The Fernando Pessoa University enables trainees to deepen and practice specific knowledge, allowing the development of competencies that favour effective and quality care to this population and their families, according to the international guidelines of evidence-based practice.

Registration number: PYL32792

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