Division of Developmental Medicine

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Our Mission

The mission of the Division of Developmental Medicine is to improve the lives of infants, children, and adolescents who face developmental and behavioral challenges and to support their families throughout their child’s life span. Our goal is to create models of collaborative care that integrate world class clinical service, cutting edge research, and innovative training programs. This will lead to better diagnostic tools and treatments, improved quality of life, and ultimately cures for developmental and behavioral disorders.

Spotlight on Innovation

ICISS: Collaborating Online to Improve Children's Healthcare

Through philanthropic support the Developmental Medicine Center was able to create an online system where parents and teachers can communicate with doctors to improve care for children who need ongoing treatment for issues such as ADHD, autism, depression, and asthma. Take a look at the video below to learn how this new Integrated Clinical Information Sharing System, or ICISS, is helping to improve communication between parents, doctors, and teachers in order to provide BCH patients with the best possible care.

BOOST-DS: Can ABA work for children with Down syndrome?

We are excited to announce that our Down Syndrome Program's Research Team has received a grant from the John Merck Fund to study whether Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) can positively impact learning, memory, and behavior in preschoolers with Down syndrome.


ABA therapy breaks complex tasks into simple pieces to help children learn and develop, and has been shown to have significant, positive impacts for young children with autism. ABA may also have positive results for children with Down syndrome, however this still needs to be carefully studied, and we are excited to be the first research team to do so.  Our study, BOOST-DS (Behavioral Optimization and Outcomes Study in Down syndrome), will work with a large group of children in order to better determine the effectiveness of ABA therapy in children with Down syndrome.  The study will bring together experts from multiple departments at Boston Children's, including pediatric psychology, neurology, neurodevelopmental disabilities, developmental-behavioral pediatrics, and cognitive neuroscience.  This team approach will allow researchers to assess not just behavioral and intellectual impacts, but also whether ABA has the potential to impact brain function.  If ABA is shown to be effective in children with Down syndrome, it may increase access to ABA services for children with Down syndrome and their families.  We will post updates here and to our Facebook page once the study is underway  Please click here for more details about the study team.


Upcoming Events

Autism Spectrum Disorder in the new DSM 5: 
How Big is the Change?

Sarah J. Spence, MD, PhD
Co-Director, Autism Spectrum Center
Wednesday, April 9th 6:00-8:00 pm


In May 2013 the American Psychiatric Association released the new manual: DSM 5, which included new diagnostic criteria for autism. The press leading up to this release was confusing and generated many concerns. In this presentation, Dr. Sarah Spence, who was part of the committee, will explain both what the changes are and how they were decided. Come hear what really happened and what the new criteria really mean to you and your child. Click here or more information and to RSVP.


Participating in Research

Do you ever wonder what it's like to participate in a research study? Take a look at the video below to hear from some of our parents and kids about their experience! To learn more and sign up for our Participant Registry, click here

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The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO