The Sie Center for Down Syndrome provides comprehensive consultation for infants, children and young adults who have Down syndrome. We partner closely with your child’s primary care provider and provide services starting at prenatal diagnosis up to age 25 (children must be seen in our clinic prior to age 21 in order to continue to age 25). The Sie Center offers state-of-the-art evaluations by a large multidisciplinary team who stays current on medical and developmental needs of children with Down syndrome.
One dedicated team for all of your child’s needs
Down syndrome can affect a range of the body’s functions. In order to address every concern that may be associated with Down syndrome, we have a comprehensive team dedicated to helping all children with Down syndrome.
Developmental pediatrician and nurse practitioner
A developmental pediatrician and nurse practitioner are medical experts who evaluate your child and provide treatment recommendations. To perform a complete evaluation, they use information from your visit to the Sie Center and other sources, including:
- Medical records
- Input from your child’s physicians
- Educational records
- Records from psychologists, occupational and physical therapists, and speech-language pathologists
The developmental pediatrician or nurse practitioner will review the medical and developmental assessment, along with current recommendations, to coordinate care and optimize your child’s health, development and quality of life.
Pediatric physical therapist
Because of certain physical characteristics including low muscle tone, lax ligaments and decreased strength, a child with Down syndrome does not develop gross motor skills in the same way as a typically developing child. Physical therapists provide an evaluation and make treatment recommendations for home programming, which will be shared with your child’s primary care provider and community therapists.
Over the long term, a physical therapist will help your child develop good posture, proper foot alignment, an efficient walking pattern and a good physical foundation for exercise throughout life.
Pediatric speech-language pathologist
A speech-language pathologist has the information and expertise to help address the speech and language challenges faced by many children with Down syndrome. Most children with Down syndrome will be delayed in acquiring speech and language skills (especially expressive skills), and this frustration commonly experienced with making their needs known may lead to behavioral, learning and socialization challenges.
Because children with Down syndrome are usually better at understanding others than expressing themselves verbally, speech therapy is a regularly recommended intervention to treat speech sound production disorders (pronunciation) problems, giving these children a chance to better communicate with others.
Our speech pathologists will also explore other modes of communication to optimize your child’s ability to communicate. A speech-language pathologist will provide resources and demonstrate methods and at-home activities to help a child master new speech and language skills. These resources and methods can then be shared with the school and/or other community providers.
Augmentative and alternative communication speech therapist
An augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) speech therapist works together with families, school teams and other professionals to develop and maintain individualized, multimodal communication systems that support the child’s unmet communication needs.
Since AAC can involve the use of vocalizations, verbal approximations, gestures, sign language, facial expressions, eye gaze, pictures, tangible symbols and speech generating devices, the role of the therapist is to identify the most effective AAC solutions, and foster the growth of meaningful communication and learning for each child and family. In addition to working directly with the child, the goal of the therapist is to lead and coach the family to feel competent and confident in using AAC strategies.
Professional feeding therapists
Speech-language pathologists and occupational feeding specialists are the primary professionals involved in assessing and managing swallowing and feeding disorders. Our oral therapists are available when there is concern about a child’s delays in oral-motor or oral-sensory development, oral intake, food refusal, picky eating or poor weight gain. If we identify possible choking or aspiration concerns, our team helps to plan a diet that reduces the risk of harm to your child.
Our professional feeding therapists play a central role in assessing, diagnosing and treating infants and children with swallowing and feeding disorders. Watch the video below to see how we use the most advanced and child-friendly technology to evaluate and diagnose swallowing difficulty for children with Down syndrome.
A psychologist provides behavioral assessment and parent training regarding management of challenging or unsafe behaviors, evaluation for dual diagnoses (Down syndrome and autism), and desensitization to medical devices (such as hearing aids or glasses) or other procedures that may be causing your child distress. A psychologist also provides treatment planning and intervention strategies.
Social workers assist families in coping with the social, emotional, financial and psychological concerns associated with having a child with Down syndrome. Our social workers also assist families with locating community resources and can provide support for transition to adulthood. A social worker can act as a liaison between the patient, family, healthcare team and community agencies.
Pediatric occupational therapist
An occupational therapist specializes in fine motor and sensory issues for children with Down syndrome. This includes sensory integration related to daily living skills (feeding, dressing, self-care, play and leisure activities), fine motor skills, visual motor skills and visual perception, as well as social skill concerns. Occupational therapists assess the unique needs of a child with Down syndrome, provides assessment, consultation, treatment recommendations and acts as a liaison between the patient, family, healthcare and school team within the community.
The education specialist provides support and resources to families surrounding the education system, specifically individualized education plan (IEP) development, curriculum adjustments and instructional modifications, as well as helping to understand the learning processes for children with Down syndrome. The education specialist also works as an ongoing resource to families and their respective school communities to help support and ensure academic growth for all students.
Sometimes, patients need more than just behavioral strategies to address their mental health symptoms. In consultation with the psychologist, the psychiatrist evaluates patients for psychiatric medications. Anxiety, ADHD, aggression and mood problems are all problems that may benefit from medication therapy. Together the psychiatrist and psychologist collaborate to develop a treatment plan that accounts for any psychosocial and medical factors that may be influencing the patient's presentation.
Our registered nurses (RN) assist with preparation of the patient chart for all new patients. At the clinic visit, the RN provides a brief initial assessment, obtains an update on current medications, assists with any procedures and provides discharge instructions and patient education. Our RN also acts as a telephone liaison between providers in the clinic and the family and provides care coordination and telephone follow-up.
Other subspecialists at Children's Hospital Colorado
At the Sie Center, your child will receive a full spectrum of care from medical experts right within our hospital. Our team will assist in coordinating appointments with other subspecialties in the hospital as recommended. Some of the specialists who collaborate on the care of your child with Down syndrome are from the: