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Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Clinic

Team

Care Coordination

Katie LeFort - PhotoKatie LeFort, Care Coordinator
Katie is a care coordinator at the John M. Sachs Family Clinic for Autism Spectrum Disorders and the Autism Discovery Institute who joined our team in 2022. She earned her master’s degree in criminal justice management from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., and is pursuing her master’s degree in social work. Katie has been working with children and adolescents of all ages in professional settings since 2012. Her experience ranges from providing milieu support at Bradley Children’s Psychiatric Hospital, applied behavior analysis therapy, and parent training in Los Angeles, and crisis intervention in south central Los Angeles. Katie has a passion for supporting and empowering both children and their families.

Behavior Specialist

Brian Fritz - PhotoBrian Fritz, M.A., BCBA
Brian Fritz has worked with children with autism spectrum disorders since 2009 and has been at Rady Children’s Hospital since 2012. He earned his master’s degree in education, with an emphasis in applied behavior analysis, from Arizona State University. He is also a board-certified behavior analyst. Brian provides individual and group services at the Torrey Hills and Kearny Mesa locations and is passionate about making a difference in the lives of children and families affected by autism.

Clinical Psychologists

Liz Bacon - PhotoLiz Bacon, Ph.D., BCBA
Liz is a clinical psychologist at the Autism Discovery Institute. She received her doctoral degree in psychology from UC San Diego, where she studied early intervention techniques for toddlers with autism and was involved in research to improve methods to facilitate early identification of autism. Liz is a licensed clinical psychologist and a board-certified behavior analyst and is well-versed conducting diagnostic evaluations and providing naturalistic developmental behavioral interventions for toddlers and children. Her research and clinical interests include improving access to developmental evaluations and treatment, understanding the stability of diagnoses over time and individualizing treatment for children with autism.

Rene Barbieri-Welge - PhotoRene Barbieri-Welge, Ph.D.
Rene has been a licensed psychologist since 1998 and has worked at Rady Children’s Hospital since 1999. She is also a licensed speech-language pathologist since 1983. Rene specializes in developmental assessment of infants and young children with a wide range of developmental issues, including prematurity, prenatal substance exposure, failure to thrive, developmental delay, language delay, autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and Angelman’s syndrome. She received her doctorate in psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Rene is bilingual (English/Spanish).

Themba Carr, Ph.D., Manager and Clinical Psychologist
Themba is a clinical psychologist and manager at the Autism Discovery Institute. She earned her doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan and completed postdoctoral fellowships at the University of California, Los Angeles Center for Autism Research and Treatment and Center for Health Services and Society. Themba’s clinical expertise includes the assessment and diagnosis of children with autism spectrum disorders and the implementation of autism-focused caregiver-mediated early intervention models. In addition to working directly with families, she serves as a certified trainer for the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule and the Autism Diagnostic Interview.

Joanna Kennedy, Psy.D. - PhotoJoanna Kennedy, Psy.D.
Joanna is a licensed clinical psychologist at the Autism Discovery Institute. She completed her doctorate in clinical psychology at Alliant University, with an emphasis on child and family psychology, in 2017. Joanna has experience providing cognitive behavioral therapy to children with a range of presenting concerns, as well as using parent-mediated interventions to address behavioral concerns. She is certified in parent-child interaction therapy. At the Autism Discovery Institute, Joanna conducts comprehensive developmental and psychological evaluations, provides CBT to school-aged children and leads PEERS social skills group for teens/adolescents.

Clinical Genetics

Photo - Kristen Wigby, M.D.Kristen Wigby, M.D.
Dr. Wigby is a clinical geneticist serving in the Neurometabolic Clinic at Rady Children’s and a clinical investigator studying neurodevelopmental disorders at Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine. Her research has been focused on the delineation of rare disorders and clinical implementation of genomic sequencing across a variety of pediatric populations. Dr. Wigby graduated from UC San Diego School of Medicine. She completed her residency in pediatrics at the University of Colorado/ Children’s Hospital of Colorado and her fellowship in medical genetics and genomics at UC San Diego. She completed a research year in genomic medicine at Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine.

Occupational Therapists

Ali Kullback
Ali Kullback has been an occupational therapist since 2016 and has worked at Rady Children’s since 2019. Ali has expertise in developmental delays, fine motor delays and visual motor delays. She has received certification in sensory oral sequential (SOS) feeding approach. Her goal is to grow professionally, continue close collaboration with an interprofessional team and provide high-quality, client-centered care.

Young-Mi Ashworth PhotoYoung-Mi Ashworth
Young-Mi Ashworth has been an occupational therapist since 2019 and has worked at Rady Children’s Hospital since 2021. She has experience in developmental disabilities, fine motor challenges, sensory processing/integration, ADHD and autism. She received her occupational therapy degree from Tufts University. Her goal is to provide exceptional client-centered care to families while maintaining evidence-based practice principles.

Neurology

Anuja Jindal, M.D., M.P.H.
Dr. Anuja Jindal is a pediatric neurologist and specialist in neurodevelopmental disabilities at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego and an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Neurosciences at UC San Diego School of Medicine. Dr. Jindal completed her undergraduate studies at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and then earned her medical degree at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. During medical school, she spent a year at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and received a Master of Public Health. After graduating from medical school, Dr. Jindal completed her residency training in pediatrics and fellowship training in neurodevelopmental disabilities at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Dr. Jindal’s main clinical practice encompasses neurodevelopmental disorders, and she is passionate about providing multidisciplinary care to children and their families. She also sees patients with general neurological conditions.

Speech-Language Pathology

Beth Brown - photoBeth Brown
Beth Brown has been a speech-language pathologist for over 30 years and has worked at Rady Children’s Hospital since 1987. Beth has extensive experience in diagnostics, autism, tongue thrust and speech and language disorders. She is licensed by the state of California, holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a current member of ASHA.

Taylor Kesteloot - PhotoTaylor Kesteloot, M.A., CCC-SLP
Taylor Kesteloot has been a speech-language pathologist since 2015 and has worked at Rady Children’s since 2017. Taylor’s special interests include early intervention, motor speech disorders, and autism spectrum disorder. Taylor is trained in SCERTS (Social Communication, Emotional Regulation, Transactional Support), PROMPT (Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets), and Social Thinking. She is certified by the Hanen Program to teach the “More than Words” course for parents. Taylor is a member of the Rady Children’s Feeding Team, and she facilitates or co-facilitates a number of group programs, including Feeding Group, Social Adventures, Connect, Mommy Daddy & Me, and First Step. Taylor received her bachelor’s degree in speech, language and hearing sciences from the University of Arizona and her master’s degree in speech-language pathology at San Diego State University. She is licensed by the State of California, holds a certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association and is a current member of ASHA.

Administration

Mike Nadolski - PhotoMike Nadolski, M.A., Program Evaluation Specialist
Mike Nadolski is a program evaluation specialist at the Autism Discovery Institute who joined the team in 2022. He earned his Master of Public Health from San Diego State University with an emphasis in health promotion and behavioral science. Mike provides quality assurance and program improvement using systematic evaluation methods to collect, analyze and disseminate findings. He is passionate about the health and well-being of all children and dedicated to ensuring they grow up with as much opportunity as possible.