Down Syndrome
Programs and Services


The Thomas Center for Down Syndrome Services provides comprehensive assessment and treatment plans for infants, children, adolescents, and young adults. By providing a range of services within one center, you can now spend less time finding help through multiple agencies and professionals. We provide your family with a full continuum of care, including evaluation, treatment and ongoing research.


The center offers comprehensive services by experts in a variety of areas including:

  • Developmental-behavioral pediatrics
  • Care coordination
  • Nutrition
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Psychology
  • Special education
  • Speech-language pathology
  • Social work
  • Transition care (Internal medicine trained providers for adolescents and young adults)

Evaluations provide information on current levels of functioning and recommendations for new or continued intervention. We are able to order laboratory studies or make referrals to other medical specialists within Cincinnati Children’s or closer to your home when appropriate.

There are several types of evaluations at the Thomas Center, each with the goal of better understanding your child’s specific strengths and needs.

For infants under 6 months of age, you can schedule an approximately 1 hour visit to focus on medical questions, feeding needs, and development. These visits include a developmental-behavioral pediatrician, occupational therapist and speech-language pathologist. Medical, therapy and community resources needs are addressed. The goal of this visit is to answer your questions and provide guidance on supports to help your child. At the end of this visit, we will coordinate the follow-up visits based on your priorities. Some families opt to schedule interval therapy consults or medical visits and others schedule a subsequent full team visit. While we try to schedule visits when all providers are available, we will see infants when only one therapist is available. If you want all three professionals, be sure to indicate this when you schedule the visit.

For children 6 months to 4 years, we coordinate visits with a team of staff to accommodate the young children and their family. A team visit will include two consecutive appointment times. One appointment will include a medical visit with a developmental-behavioral pediatrician. Another longer appointment will include a team visit in a larger play area. During this appointment, a dietitian, occupational therapist, physical therapist and speech-language pathologist will meet with you and evaluate your child. This visit type allows for maximal information to be assessed taking into account the needs of the child. If all of our team is not available on a specific day, we make efforts to meet the individual needs of your family in subsequent visits. If you have an area of developmental priority, be sure to indicate this when you schedule the visit. Early milestones including feeding, moving, and talking are addressed. Recommendations are provided at the end of the visit with formal reports mailed to you following the visit.

Your child and family will first meet a developmental-behavioral pediatrician. Depending on your priorities and the needs of your child, we coordinate subsequent visits or evaluations. These evaluations can include occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech-language pathology, psychology, special education, and/or nutrition. We can coordinate these evaluations to occur on the same day or have the visits schedules across various days. If your child needs many different evaluations, the visits may need to span over more than one day. Referrals for cognitive or academic testing, or other treatment programs can be scheduled as needed based on your needs. Cognitive and educational testing results require time to score and interpret. For these visits, typically families will return within about 4 weeks to review the reports and recommendations.

Adolescents and adults with Down syndrome can be seen within the transition program through the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. This clinical program will work with you to map out transition needs including aspects of care such as adult medical care, social supports, vocational planning, and financial planning. Information regarding SSI, guardianship, Developmental Disability Services, and the waiver system is provided. Referrals for supporting evaluations are made as needed.

Treatment Programs

Our staff is available to work with children and their families, as well as professionals and agencies in the community, to maximize the potential for all individuals with Down syndrome. We provide consultation, direct intervention and co-treatment in the areas of speech and language, behavior management, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and feeding / nutrition. For children who are also diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, we work with colleagues in the Kelly O’Leary Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders to support your child’s individual needs.

Some children with Down syndrome need augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) when they are physically unable to produce speech or are very difficult to understand. The Thomas Center offers specialty evaluations for AAC and treatment with a variety of AAC methods. AAC can be high-tech, such as a computer that is programmed to talk for the child. AC can also be low-tech by using simple pictures, sign language, or a device that plays recorded messages. A speech-language pathologist with a specialty in AAC will assist in the selection of the AAC device that best fits the need of the child. Parent training and device programming is also available.
We have psychologists who can work with parents and caregivers in treatment sessions to provide individualized support to address behavioral concerns. These can occur with children and adolescents.
As appropriate, our speech-language pathologist and occupational therapist will work with your child in one appointment to address both communication and fine motor skill development. These appointments may be beneficial in addressing sensory-communication needs, endurance to tolerate structured therapy activities, and feeding treatment. Co-treatments with speech-language pathologists and physical therapists are also available.
We understand that school can be challenging. Our educational support services include special education consultation, diagnostic evaluation, school observation, IEP and curriculum support, and participation in school team meetings. These services are offered free of charge to families using, or who have used within the last two years, other services offered through the Thomas Center. This is to ensure your child’s health care is up-to-date and is not contributing to other concerns such as school behavior. 
Our occupational therapists will work with your child to help master independence in self-care skills, fine and gross motor skills, school readiness skills, play and leisure skills, community participation and to address sensory processing deficits that may interfere with daily activities.
Our physical therapist will work with your child to help master gross motor skills of rolling, sitting, creeping/crawling, standing/cruising, walking, running, and balance and coordination. We are also able to assist in obtaining necessary equipment such as walkers and braces.
Our psychologist will provide support and treat individuals with Down syndrome for a variety of general behavioral and mental health needs. Children can also receive cognitive and behavioral evaluations (may be impacted by insurance coverage).