Autism Advisory Committee

Children’s Specialized Hospital Autism Center of Excellence

Meet Children’s Specialized Hospital Autism Center of Excellence Advisory Committee Members.

Vanessa Bal

Vanessa BalDr. Vanessa H. Bal is an Associate Professor and Karmazin and Lillard Chair in Adult Autism at the Graduate School of Applied & Professional Psychology at Rutgers University. She is also a licensed clinical psychologist and Director of the Psychological Services Clinic at the Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services. Her LifeSPAN Autism lab research focuses on advancing understanding of autism in adulthood, with specific interests in assessment, diagnosis, characterization of strengths and adaptation of interventions and supports to address adult mental health concerns and foster well-being. Outside of research, she aims to promote equitable access to services through provision of graduate and professional training about autism in adulthood.

Dr. Bal earned her MSc in Neuroscience from the University of Oxford and her PhD in Psychology from the University of Michigan. She also completed her Clinical Psychology internship at UMichigan and a Postdoc in Human Genetics in the University of California San Francisco Department of Psychiatry.

Malia Beckwith

Malia BeckwithDr. Beckwith is a graduate of the University of Missouri- Kansas City School of Medicine. She completed her Pediatrics Residency and Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics Fellowsp at the Children’s Mrcy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, before her move to the East Coast. Dr. Beckwith joined the staff of Children’s Specialized Hospital (CSH) in 2011, providing clinical services as a Board-Certified Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician.

Dr. Beckwith holds various leadership roles at CSH. She served as Medical Staff President 2020-2023, and is currently the AVP of Ambulatory Medical Practices and Section Chief of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Children’s Specialized Hospital (CSH). Dr. Beckwith is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and serves as Fellowship Program Director for the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Fellowship in Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics.

In her Section Chief role, Dr. Beckwith oversees the nation’s largest Section of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics, which includes 18 physicians and 15 nurse practitioners. This role provides an opportunity to significantly impact the quality of care provided to children with special needs across the state through development of innovative care models and quality initiatives.

A large portion of her clinical practice and special interest is work with children with autism and their families. Dr. Beckwith has published on nutritional concerns and obesity risk for children with autism spectrum disorder, in addition to the developmental outcomes of children with prenatal opiate exposure. She participated in the initial design for Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) Screening at CSH, and continues to be a champion for SDOH-informed care.

Dr. Beckwith resides in Westfield, NJ with her husband, 2 daughters, and cockapoo.

Wayne Fisher

Wayne FisherWayne Fisher is the Henry Rutgers Endowed Professor of Pediatrics in the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, a core faculty member of the Brain Health Institute, and the principal investigator for the New Jersey Autism Center of Excellence (NJACE). He is also the inaugural director of the Rutgers University Center for Autism Research, Education, and Service (RUCARES), a board-certified behavior analyst at the doctoral level (BCBA-D), and a licensed psychologist. He was previously a tenured professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) and at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Kennedy Krieger Institute, where he built clinical-research programs in autism and developmental disabilities with international reputations for excellence.

Fisher’s methodologically sophisticated research has focused on several intersecting lines, including mathematical models of behavior, preference assessment, choice responding, and the assessment and treatment of autism and severe behavior disorders. His research has been notable for the creative use of concurrent schedules of reinforcement, which have become more commonplace in clinical research primarily because of his influence. He has published over 220 peer-reviewed papers in over 30 different behavioral and/or medical journals, including: the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis; Psychological Reports; American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities; Pediatrics; the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders; the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics; and The Lancet. Fisher has had near-continuous federal grant support for his research for 25 years. He is a past editor of the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, a past president of the Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior (SEAB), and a fellow in the Association for Behavior Analysis International. His is the recipient of (a) the Bush Leadership Award; (b) the Award for Outstanding Contributions to Applied Behavioral Research from the American Psychological Association (APA), Division 25; (c) the UNMC Distinguished Scientist Award; (d) the University of Nebraska system-wide award for Outstanding Research and Creative Activity; (e) the Don Hake Translational Research Award from Division 25 of the APA, (f) the Outstanding Mentor of Graduate Students Award from UNMC; (g) the Michael Hemingway Behavior Analysis Award from the Behavior Analysis Certification Board; (h) the Joseph V. Brady Significant Research Contribution Award from SEAB; (i) the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis Seminal Article Award from SEAB, and (j) the Texas ABA EnduringContributionsto Behavior Analysis Award.

Amy Gravino

Amy GravinoAmy Gravino, M.A., is an autism sexuality advocate and Relationship Coach in the Center for Adult Autism Services at Rutgers University. She is also the President of A.S.C.O.T Consulting, which offers autism consulting, college coaching, and mentoring services for organizations, schools, individuals on the autism spectrum, and their families. Amy is an international speaker who has given TED talks, spoken twice at the United Nations for World Autism Awareness Day, and presented worldwide to audiences on a variety of topics related to autism, with a dedicated special focus and research on the subject of autism and sexuality.

Ms. Gravino obtained her Masters degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from Caldwell University in 2010 and currently serves on the Boards of Directors of Yes She Can, Inc. and the Golden Door International Film Festival of Jersey City, as well as the Scientific Advisory Board of Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research (SPARK). She is an award-winning writer who has co-authored a chapter on autism and sexuality in the Handbook of Quality of Life for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and her work has been featured in Spectrum, the leading online news source for autism research, and other outlets. Visit to learn more.

Alycia Halladay

Alycia HalladayAlycia Halladay is the Chief Science Officer for the Autism Science Foundation, where she oversees all of the scientific activities, grant programs, funding projects and scientific initiatives of ASF. This includes a weekly podcast and a year-end summary of research for families. Prior to joining ASF in 2014, she served as the Senior Director of Clinical and Environmental Sciences at Autism Speaks. She has authored over two dozen peer-reviewed papers in science journals around Autism Spectrum Disorder, with a focus on the needs of the underserved and underrepresented in scientific research. Alycia also serves on the Board of Directors for the Phelan McDermid Syndrome Foundation and the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee. She is on the editorial boards of Neurotoxicology and Frontiers in Pediatrics. She received a PhD in biopsychology from Rutgers in 2001 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ in 2004. She holds a faculty appointment at Rutgers. She is the parent to a 12-year-old daughter with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Jill Harris, PhD Autism Advancement Coordinator

Jill HarrisDr. Harris is a licensed psychologist and a school psychologist. She has worked at Children’s Specialized Hospital (CSH) for 35 years, most recently as Autism Advancement Ambassador. She serves as Principal Investigator for the SPARK-CSH site autism research study. SPARK is the largest autism research study in the United States.

Dr. Harris received her BA degree in psychology from North Carolina State University and PhD in School Psychology from the University of NC-Chapel Hill. Her research interests focus on early autism screening, and addressing racial and ethnic disparities in accessing care for autistic children and families. She is also the parent of an autistic adult.

Genevieve Kumpaley, PharmD, BCOP

Genevieve KumapleyDr. Genevieve Kumapley is the Founder and the Executive Director of MyGOAL, a 501 C(3) non-profit autism organization established in 2008 in the United States that helps families with limited economic resources access therapies, programs, and information about autism spectrum disorders. It organizes seminars, family support groups and sponsors grant programs for families in the United States. She is also the Founder of Haven International, an NGO in Ghana, that provides services for individuals with intellectual disabilities including Autism and other developmental disabilities.

Dr. Kumapley received her Doctor of Pharmacy Degree with Honors from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Kumapley is a Board Certified Oncology Pharmacist and leads as a Clinical Pharmacy Manager / Residency Program Director at Holy Name Medical Center; she also holds an Adjunct Clinical Instructor appointment with Rutgers University Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy and Fairleigh Dickinson University. She was an NJLEND Fellow (New Jersey’s Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities)a program of The Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; a graduate of the New Jersey Partners in Policy Making and Rutgers Institute of Ethical Leadership/Prudential Foundation Non-profit Executive Leadership Fellowship program.

She is a passionate advocate for families and individuals with Autism and uses her leadership skills to inspire and educate the community. She is committed to serving her community through her roles on several boards. Dr. Kumapley is a Maxwell Team Certified Speaker, Coach, and Trainer. She is a co-author of 2 books, “7 Principles to Developing and Maintaining Your Passion, a book anthology, Network to Increase your Net Worth, and her chapter is titled, No Passion, No Gain. She has been featured on several TV and Radio Networks including Ghana TV, NBC, and ABC News.

Adrienne Robertiello

Adrienne RobertielloAdrienne Robertiello is the Specialized Health Care Educator and Interim Autism Program Coordinator at Children’s Specialized Hospital (CSH). Her lived experience as a person with a disability and parent of a young autistic adult shapes her worldview. Adrienne has developed and implemented successful initiatives including Make Friends with Autism, Autism and Safety – It's Unpredictable, Friends Like You Friends Like Me, Real Life Tips for Kids with Autism, Healthier Me, The Hospital and Me, Color and Calm, the CSH Inpatient Autism Initiative, and more. Adrienne is certified in Advanced Disability Studies and is a certified instructor within the New Jersey Training Commission. She actively serves on multiple boards and committees where she partners with disability advocates, organizational leaders, families, professionals from various disciplines, and safety stakeholders. Currently, Adrienne leads Learn to Live Safely with Disabilities and Special Health Needs, a grant from the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Disability Services. These efforts involve community and organizational leaders and advocates with disabilities to ensure that safety education and supports resonate authentically with the communities served.

Gregory Santucci, MS, OTR

Gregory SantucciGreg Santucci has been a Pediatric Occupational Therapist for 25 years and is currently the Supervisor of Occupational Therapy at Children’s Specialized Hospital’s Hamilton and East Brunswick campuses. In addition to his work at CSH, Greg is also the Founding Director of Power Play Pediatric Therapy. He is certified in Sensory Integration and the creator of the Model of Child Engagement, a neuro-developmentally informed approach to improving felt safety, regulation and engagement in children of all levels of ability. Greg presents both nationally and internationally on topics related to sensorimotor development, sensory processing, regulation and behavior. He recently received the Award of Merit from the NJ Occupational Therapy Association for his advocacy work related to neurodiversity-affirming care. He is a proud Penn State and Thomas Jefferson University graduate, but his most cherished title is that of “Dad” to two amazing teenage children.

Deborah Spitalnik, PhD

Deborah Spitalnik, PhDDeborah M. Spitalnik, PhD is Professor of Pediatrics and Family Medicine and Community Health at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. The founding Executive Director of The Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities, a division of the Department of Pediatrics and New Jersey’s federally designated University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service and New Jersey's Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities Program (NJLEND).

Dr. Spitalnik’s work addresses the intersection between individuals and public policy. She is a co-author of the 9th and 10th editions of the diagnostic manual in Intellectual Disabilities and a contributing author to the Developmental and Pediatrics V textbook. Her recent research has focused on the impact of an Autism diagnosis on Latino Families. She collaborates with the Rutgers Center on State Health Policy on research on primary care outcomes for adults with developmental disabilities on Medicaid and on program evaluation of service models for children with significant behavioral disorders and mental health needs. She is the chair of New Jersey’s Medical Assistance Advisory and former member and past chair of the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disability.

Dennis Taylor

Dennis TaylorDennis James Taylor is a graphic artist from northern New Jersey. His professional career began at Spectrum Works in Secaucus, New Jersey, a nonprofit that provides job training and life skills for young adults on the autism spectrum. Spectrum facilitated a position with F&M Expressions, the graphics department of Green Distribution.

He is the founder and CEO of D.J.T. Productions, LLC ( as well as the author and illustrator of a young adult’s book, “Bandit’s Legacy,” the story of a young raptor trying to make his way in the world of Early Cretaceous Montana. He has also created a line of dinosaur tee shirts. Additionally, he is developing an animated series, “The Taylor Cubs,” featuring Danny Taylor and his cousins as they scour the globe learning about their family lineage while defending the world from evil.

Taylor is a frequent presenter on the topic of life on the autism spectrum as well as on the writing process. He also has presented at the “Dare to Dream” Student Leadership Conference at Montclair State University, was a panelist for the Autism Speaks Thought Leadership Conference on Health Equity, at ASPEN conferences and most recently at Adelphi University’s 2023 Autism Acceptance: College Self- Advocacy Showcase.

Interests include animation, animals, travel, writing, music, and museums. Taylor is a graduate of Bergen Community College, with an associate degree in applied arts and sciences.

Patient Stories

  • “There are so many workshops, information resources, and people you can talk to at CSH,” said Katie. “The opportunities here are so valuable. CSH has done so much for our family; I never want Gracelyn to leave.”

    Read More
  • “I love ABA therapy! It helps to provide structure for AJ."

    Read More
  • We started looking into therapy services and discovered Children’s Specialized Hospital, and I’m so glad we did.

    Read More

Patient Stories

  • Watch Testimonial
  • Watch Testimonial
  • Watch Testimonial