A photo of Anna Esbensen.

Anna J. Esbensen, PhD, FAPA, FAAIDD

  • Research Director, Jane and Richard Thomas Center for Down Syndrome
  • Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics



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.

Insurance Information

Cincinnati Children's strives to accept a wide variety of health plans. Please contact your health insurance carrier to verify coverage for your specific benefit plan.

View Insurance Information



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.

Systematic Review: Emotion Dysregulation in Syndromic Causes of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Shaffer, RC; Reisinger, DL; Schmitt, LM; Lamy, M; Dominick, KC; Smith, EG; Coffman, MC; Esbensen, AJ. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 2022.

Considerations for measuring individual outcomes across contexts in Down syndrome: Implications for research and clinical trials. Esbensen, AJ; Schworer, EK; Fidler, DJ; Thurman, AJ. International Review of Research in Developmental Disabilities. 2022.

Associations among co-occurring medical conditions and cognition, language, and behavior in Down syndrome. Schworer, EK; Ahmed, A; Hogenkamp, L; Moore, S; Esbensen, AJ. Research in Developmental Disabilities. 2022; 126.

Defining Expressive Language Benchmarks for Children with Down Syndrome. Thurman, AJ; Bullard, L; Kelly, L; Wong, C; Nguyen, V; Esbensen, AJ; Bekins, J; Schworer, EK; Fidler, DJ; Daunhauer, LA; et al. Brain Sciences. 2022; 12.

Co-occurring medical and behavioural conditions in children with Down syndrome with or without ADHD symptom presentation. Esbensen, AJ; Vincent, LB; Epstein, JN; Kamimura-Nishimura, K; Wiley, S; Angkustsiri, K; Abbeduto, L; Fidler, D; Anixt, JS; Froehlich, TE. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research. 2022; 66:282-296.

Latent profiles of autism symptoms in children and adolescents with Down syndrome. Fidler, DJ; Prince, MA; Van Deusen, K; Esbensen, AJ; Thurman, AJ; Abbeduto, L; Patel, L; Mervis, C; Schworer, EK; Lee, NR; et al. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research. 2022; 66:265-281.

Randomized Behavioral Sleep Clinical Trial to Improve Outcomes in Children With Down Syndrome. Esbensen, AJ; Hoffman, EK; Beebe, DW; Byars, K; Carle, AC; Epstein, JN; Johnson, C. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. 2022; 127:149-164.

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. 2022; 66:195-211.

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. 2022; 43:1-8.

Patient Ratings and Comments

All patient satisfaction ratings and comments are submitted by actual patients and verified by a leading independent patient satisfaction company, NRC Health. Patient identities are withheld to ensure confidentiality and privacy. Only those providers whose satisfaction surveys are administered through Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center are displayed. Click here to learn more about our survey