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About Us

Our history

Providing vital services to children with Down syndrome
The Down Syndrome Centre (DSC) was founded by Peter Gaw and his wife, Mary as a result of their frustration at not being able to access relevant services for their two youngest children, both of whom have Down syndrome.

In October 2014, the DSC opended its doors as Ireland’s first professional services centre for children with Down syndrome and their families in Sandyford. Eight years later, a second centre as opened in Swords. And now there are also affiliate centres in Cork, Portlaoise and Swords. 

Our service is mainly funded through charitable giving from families connected to the DSC, the general public and the business community. State-supported grants are not a regular source of funding.

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Our services

Offering a wide range of therapies, educational programmes, social and recreational opportunities to children with Down syndrome and their families
We provide approved approaches at the earliest opportunity to assist children with Down Syndrome in achieving developmental milestones throughout their journey to adulthood – reaching their full potential and participating in society. Our team of qualified speech & language therapists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and teachers provide personalised services that evolve with each child’s growth.

Our multidisciplinary team also supports families through professional guidance on being the parent or sibling of a child with Down Syndrome. Workshops and webinars cover essential topics such as understanding Down syndrome, communication, behaviour management and fostering social inclusion. Our centres also provide a space for peer support and networking opportunities, building a community where families can share their stories with others who understand and empathise.

DSC services are consistent with the HSE’s Progressing Disability Services for Children & Young People programme (PDS) which envisages services being provided in conjunction with the community and voluntary sector. Children’s Disability Network Teams cannot refer children to us, however they make families on waiting lists aware of our services. We also support special and mainstream schools in delivering special needs education and promoting inclusion.

Our services also help the State meet its obligations to implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRP) and the European Pillar on Social Rights.
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SERVICES SUMMARY

For children
 Initial and Review Assessments
 Speech & Language Therapy
 Occupational Therapy
 Physiotherapy / Joint Therapy
 Group Therapy
 Lámh Training
 Therapist School Visits
 SKIP (Special Kids Intervention Programme) S&L & OT therapy-led programme to prepare children for mainstream school)
 Team 21 Tots (parent and toddler group led by Montessori teacher)
 Stepping Stones (OT & S&L led early development programme for 6-18 months)
 Typing Club
 Baby Massage
 Bicycle Club
 Teens Programme (Therapy-led programme life skills programme)
 Music Therapy
 Youth Club
 OT and S&L led Summer and Easter Workshops/Camps

For families
 Parent Advice Clinic
 Sibling Workshops (peer support and education)
 Special Needs Trust Planning Workshop

Webinars
 Parents’ Stammer Evening
 Introduction to Assisted Devices
 Navigating Behavioural Challenges
 Puberty & Sexuality
 Transition to Primary School
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SERVICE IMPACTS

 Timely achievement of developmental milestones such as cognitive, linguistic, communicative, motor and social skills
 Identifies and reduces risk of secondary health issues such as underdeveloped muscle tissue, body misalignment, obesity and heart disease
 Sets the foundation for improved outcomes in education, employment, social inclusion, participation and independence
 Fosters positive self-image and sense of belonging
 Improved wellbeing and quality of life for children and their families
 Empowers families to understand and meet the unique needs of their children
 Creates a social outlet and sense of community and peer support among children with Down syndrome and their families

Take a look at what happens in our centres by checking out our videos below!

Our Mission

To support all children with Down syndrome and their families through the provision of professional services, helping them reach their full potential and participating in society.

Our Ambassadors

Gina Daly
Instagram Influencer | Author
DSC Ambassador
Read Bio
Gina Daly is a food blogger, successful cookbook author, and one-half of the dynamic husband and wife team behind The Daly Dish. The home-cooks started sharing their recipes on Instagram in 2019 and have since garnered over 240,000 followers between them. During lockdown, The Daly Dish cookbook became the top-selling Irish cookbook and broke all records with 5,000 pre-orders before the book even hit the Irish shelves. Their second cookbook, The Daly Dish Rides Again, was shortlisted for Cookbook of the Year.

Already loving parents to Holly and Ben, in November 2021, Gina gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby boy. Gene was born with Down syndrome and both Gina and Karol are determined that their amazing baby son will live life to the full and have all the opportunities that his brother and sister have.

For World Down Syndrome Day, Gina collaborated with BabyBoo the online retailer and designed 6 bibs. Gina selected us as her chosen charity, and we will receive €1 from the sale of each bib.

Becoming an ambassador for the Down Syndrome Centre was something Gina felt passionately about and believes that every child with Down syndrome should have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Jordan Larmour
Leinster & IRFU Player
DSC Ambassador
Read Bio
Jordan Larmour is a professional rugby player who currently plays with Leinster and Irish Rugby. Known for his fast feet and acceleration, Jordan has become a household name in Irish rugby since joining the senior squads of Leinster and Ireland in 2018 where he won a Grand Slam 6 Nations title, a Guinness Pro14 title and a Champions Cup. Following this success, Jordan was recognised in winning various young/breakthrough player of the year awards and looks to build on these over the coming years. At 24, Jordan still has a huge career ahead of him and will be seeking to win many titles with Leinster and Ireland over the next few seasons.

Becoming an ambassador for the Down Syndrome Centre is something that Jordan is very proud of. The connection that Jordan has with the centre goes back years through his parents and from his St. Andrew’s College and Monkstown Hockey days with the Gaws. Jordan will be looking to use his name and platform to promote and highlight the centre and the great work that they do to provide much needed services for children with Down syndrome.

Our Team

Each member of our team is led by one aim - giving children with Down syndrome the most fulfilling and independent lives possible.
Triona Cussen - Northside Centre Manager
Ann O’Sullivan - Northside & Southside Physiotherapist
Dani Dowling - Southside SKIP
Lauren Shaw - Southside Speech & Language Therapist 
Lorraine Finn - Southside Senior Speech & Language Therapist 
Hela Watson - Southside Occupational Therapist Southside
Rachel Cleary - Northside Senior Speech & Language Therapist 
Megan McCormack - Northside Occupational Therapist
Leslie Jabara Wrenn - Northside & Southside Music Therapist

Our Board

Peter Wilson - Chairman
Peter is a Chartered Surveyor and Entrepreneur operating across all sectors of commercial real estate. He is currently a Director of Wilson Wright a property development and asset management consultancy.

Peter joined the board in 2021 and is also a member of the Steering Committee to the Together Academy. He is married to Laura and they have three children one of whom, Margot, continues to thrive within the many programs offered by the Down Syndrome Centre.
Lorraine Costelloe - Treasurer
Lorraine is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Ireland and has worked in financial services for over 20 years, with experience across Finance, Treasury, Customer Experience & Products.

Lorraine is married to Don – they have three wonderful children together – Seán, Clodagh & Marie. Seán continues to enjoy great support & friendship via the Down Syndrome Centre.
Niamh Garvey - Trustee
Niamh is Executive Director at Edelman.

She has over 25 years of global strategic marketing communications experience, specialising in healthcare.

Niamh is married to Colm and mum to Ryan, aged nine, who enjoys attending the Centre for a range of services.
Dan Holland - Trustee
Dan has 15 years of experience as an Audit Partner.  Prior to joining Grant Thornton 4 years ago, Dan spent 11 years as a Partner in another firm, with 8 years as Head of the Audit and Assurance department. He also spent 2 years as group financial controller for large privately owned companies. Dan is a member of the Chartered Accountants Ireland Audit and Assurance Committee. He is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Ireland, a member of the Irish Taxation Institute and has a diploma in International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) from Chartered Accountants Ireland. Dan is Head of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and chairs the steering committee that oversees their Embrace programmes.
The Down Syndrome Centre is compliant with all regulatory requirements for care of children, clinical practice, teaching and governance. Our services are consistent with the HSE’s Progressing Disability Services for Children & Young People programme.

Memberships include: Down Syndrome International, the Wheel and the Charities Institute Ireland, from whom we have Triple-Lock status for fundraising, governance and financial management. 
We are registered with the Charities Regulator to whom we subimit our annual report.

Charity Number: 20055158 
Sandyford Centre
Unit 3, 82 Furze Road,
Sandyford, Dublin 18 
D18 DP49
Swords Centre
Willowbrook House,
Balheary Road, Swords, Dublin 
K67 R8C6
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