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Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Clinic


Behavior Specialist

Brian 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 childrens and families affected by autism.


Clinical Psychologists

Liz 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, 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 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.
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

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.

Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics

Lauren Gist, M.D., M.P.H.
Dr. Lauren Gist is a board-certified pediatrician who specializes in developmental-behavioral pediatrics. Dr. Gist completed a fellowship in developmental-behavioral pediatrics at UC San Diego School of Medicine, where she also completed her pediatric residency. She earned her medical degree from Duke University School of Medicine. She also holds a master’s degree in public health with a specialty in maternal and child health from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health in Chapel Hill, N.C. Developmental-behavioral pediatricians work with families to evaluate, treat and coordinate care for children with developmental delays, behavioral issues, learning difficulties or mental health concerns. Dr. Gist has a special interest in the evaluation and care of young children with behavioral challenges, children with developmental and behavioral concerns associated with genetic conditions, autism and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Lauren is bilingual (English/Spanish).

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.



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
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, 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.


Dayna Stout, Program Evaluation Specialist
Dayna Stout is a program evaluation specialist at the Autism Discovery Institute. She earned her bachelor’s degree in integrative biology at University of California Berkeley. She joined the team at Rady Children’s in 2019. Dayna supports the Autism Discovery Institute team in implementing quality improvement initiatives to improve and ensure quality care across all services. She is passionate about improving healthcare systems to provide evidence-based quality care to children and families across all backgrounds. Additionally, she enjoys providing music therapy at Alexa’s PLAYC.