A photo of Anna Esbensen.

Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics


My Biography & Research


I’m a clinical psychologist who specializes in Down syndrome. In my practice, I support individuals who have Down syndrome with mental health management, when needed. I also provide support to families of individuals with Down syndrome, especially related to behavior management. Psychological testing is part of my practice as well.

I serve as the psychologist and research director for the Thomas Center for Down Syndrome at Cincinnati Children’s. I’m also a fellow of the American Psychological Association and a fellow of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

I came to my specialty area because my early experiences with individuals with Down syndrome shaped my research questions and clinical focus. I focus on how the genetic characteristics of Down syndrome interact with the environment, contributing to the mental health and behavioral presentation of the individual. I’m also concerned with the patient’s family and their needs, so that I can provide them with their desired treatment outcome.

In addition to helping patients and their families, I do research. I’m interested in how we measure outcomes and change in outcomes through the lifespan development of individuals with Down syndrome, the physical and mental health of individuals with Down syndrome, and comorbid conditions often present in individuals with Down syndrome.

I also hope to improve on current clinical trials, which have not been successful in part because our outcome measures have not been sensitive to detecting change. I’m seeking to identify what measures are most appropriate for use with individuals with Down syndrome who are between the ages of 2 ½ years and 29 years. These measures must also be the most sensitive to detecting change.

In my spare time, I enjoy reading on my porch swing and researching genealogy.

Clinical Interests

Behavior management; depression

Research Interests

Lifespan development of down syndrome; health care of individuals with down syndrome; development of depressive symptomatology among individuals with intellectual disability

Academic Affiliation

Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics

Clinical Divisions

Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Down Syndrome

Research Divisions

Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics

My Locations

My Education

PhD: The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, 2004.

MA: The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, 2001.

BScH: Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada, 1997.

My Publications

Selected Publication

Contributions to Racial Disparity in Mortality among Children with Down Syndrome. Santoro, SL; Esbensen, AJ; Hopkin, RJ; Hendershot, L; Hickey, F; Patterson, B. Journal of Pediatrics. 2016; 174:240-246.e1.

Comparison of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Typically Developing Children and Children with Down Syndrome. Esbensen, AJ; Epstein, JN; Vincent, LB; Kamimura-Nishimura, K; Wiley, S; Angkustsiri, K; Abbeduto, L; Fidler, D; Froehlich, TE. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. 2021.

The role of distinct executive functions on adaptive behavior in children and adolescents with Down syndrome. Will, EA; Schworer, EK; Esbensen, AJ. Child Neuropsychology. 2021; 1-19.

Cross-Sectional Exploration of Plasma Biomarkers of Alzheimer's Disease in Down Syndrome: Early Data from the Longitudinal Investigation for Enhancing Down Syndrome Research (LIFE-DSR) Study. Hendrix, JA; Airey, DC; Britton, A; Burke, AD; Capone, GT; Chavez, R; Chen, J; Chicoine, B; Costa, AC S; Dage, JL; et al. Journal of Clinical Medicine. 2021; 10.

Evaluating working memory outcome measures for children with Down syndrome. Schworer, EK; Esbensen, AJ; Fidler, DJ; Beebe, DW; Carle, A; Wiley, S. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research. 2021.

Further understanding the connection between Alzheimer's disease and Down syndrome. Snyder, HM; Bain, LJ; Brickman, AM; Carrillo, MC; Esbensen, AJ; Espinosa, JM; Fernandez, F; Fortea, J; Hartley, SL; Head, E; et al. Alzheimer's and Dementia. 2020; 16:1065-1077.

Clinical Validation of the Autism Behavior Inventory: Caregiver-Rated Assessment of Core and Associated Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Bangerter, A; Ness, S; Lewin, D; Aman, MG; Esbensen, AJ; Goodwin, MS; Dawson, G; Hendren, R; Leventhal, B; Shic, F; et al. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 2020; 50:2090-2101.

Defining behavioral challenges in Down syndrome utilizing a multidimensional dynamic approach: Implications for treatment intervention. Patel, LR; Esbensen, AJ; Sannar, EM. . 2020.

THE LIFE-DSR STUDY. Hendrix, J; Burke, AD; Capone, G; Chicoine, B; Costa, A; Esbensen, AJ; Hart, SJ; Head, E; Kishnani, PS; Lai, F; et al. Alzheimer's and Dementia. 2019; 15:p582-p583.

Reliability of Informant-Report Measures of Executive Functioning in Children With Down Syndrome. Esbensen, AJ; Hoffman, EK; Shaffer, R; Chen, E; Patel, L; Jacola, L. American Journal on Mental Retardation. 2019; 124:220-233.