Dr Spence’s clinical and research activities have been focused on children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and related disorders. She was recruited to BCH in 2010 and has led a multi-disciplinary effort to form the Autism Spectrum Center at BCH, of which she is co-director.
As a child neurologist with doctoral training in cognitive neuroscience, her research interests have always been at the interface between brain and behavior. She credits her ASD expertise to the experience of doing home visits for the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE), a large autism genebank. She spent 6 years as the medical director of the UCLA Autism Evaluation Clinic and then 4 years at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) doing clinical research. At Boston Children’s she is combining her interests and expertise in clinical care, clinical research, and teaching with a primary focus on improving the lives of children with autism spectrum disorders and their families.
She has lectured extensively nationally and internationally on ASD. She has also worked on the DSM-5 Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Workgroup and worked with various foundations and professional groups including Cure Autism Now, Autism Speaks, AGRE, the Autism Treatment Network, the Dup 15q Alliance, the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance.