Turning 18: What to do now

Apply for SSI

How to apply for Social Security Disability Benefits – Individuals with Down Syndrome. 

Disability and Down Syndrome: Filing for Social Security Benefits

Establish Guardianship

One of the most important things to think about when your member is about to turn 18 is establishing legal guardianship. Click here to learn about how to get started with this important process. 

Programs_ADA 4


Then get involved at DSL!

Adult Development Academy

When a student finishes high school they are able to attend DSL’s day training program. Some students want to leave high school with their typical peers, and others choose to stay until 21. We typically advise families to stay with public education as long as they can, but there are circumstances when it’s better to move on from high school. DSL’s day training program will allow students to attend classes up to three days per week. Students attend academic classes in reading and math each day. Also, independent living classes such as healthy cooking, relationships, communication, and more are offered. Students can also receive any therapies needed during their days at DSL. This service can be paid for through waiver funds. It is popular to combine this service with supported employment, such as DSL’s Career Solutions (See Below). 

Contact Russ Owens – russo@dsoflou.org – to get started in DSL Adult Development Academy!

Adult Academic Tutoring

After a student has completed high school they can enroll for academic tutoring with a trained volunteer at DSL. The student and tutor meet weekly to address academic goals. There is no cost for this service. 

Contact Cathy Palmer – cathyp@dsoflou.org – to get started with a tutor!

Post-Secondary Education

We believe that learning is for everyone! If your son or daughter would like to go on to
college after high school then there are options, and we would like to support you in
making this dream a reality.

Think College

There are over 300 college programs for students with intellectual disabilities at colleges and universities around the U.S. This site is loaded with resources for families!

Think College

College Connections

College Connections at Down Syndrome of Louisville has collaborated with three local universities JCTC, Ivy Tech Sellersburg, and Bellarmine University to provide a pathway to higher education. These programs are all non-degree seeking, but a certificate can be earned by completing the programs. 

Contact Cathy Palmer – cathyp@dsoflou.org – to get started with College Connections!

Ruby’s Rainbow Scholarships

Ruby’s Rainbow is a non-profit dedicated to spreading awareness of the capabilities of people with Down syndrome and supporting their dreams of higher education. They offer college scholarships to students with Down syndrome wanting to pursue their education.

Ruby’s Rainbow


Brianna & Austin


Pre-Employment Transition Services (Ages 14-21)

Down Syndrome of Louisville offers the Pre-employment Transition Services program (Pre-ETS) for students ages 14-21. These classes are designed to prepare students for competitive, integrated employment starting at an early age. Skills also transfer to social and community involvement. Classes offer valuable and fun experiences with job exploration, workplace readiness, and self-advocacy. Other classes available are post-secondary counseling and work-based learning.

Contact Shelly Durbin –  shellyd@dsoflou.org – to get started with Pre-ETS!

Career Solutions

Supported Employment (Ages After completing high school): Down Syndrome of Louisville offers supported employment. Supported employment is an employment service for people who require ongoing support to succeed in their job in the competitive workplace. This process starts with an employment specialist discovering the person’s, employment goals, strengths, and conditions for employment. Then the specialist will secure interviews and if the job is offered will work with the employer to assist with training. Support will be provided and will fade as the employer and employee are more comfortable. DSL will continue serving the employee through a
lifetime of employment.

It is very important to contact the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) in the student’s junior year of high school. Each high school is assigned an OVR counselor. If the student is interested in working after high school you need to make sure this counselor is invited to the transition meeting. The office of Vocational Rehabilitation
funds supported employment for students with Down syndrome after they have completed high school. 

Contact Shelly Durbin – shellyd@dsoflou.org – or – zacs@dsoflou.org – to get started with Career Solutions!

Independent Living Skills

Ages 14 – 21

PreETS: The Pre Employment Transition program includes independent living skills beyond just employment. The units on self-advocacy and post-secondary counseling are especially beneficial (See Above).

Ages 18 and Over

Living and Learning (Ages Completed high school): DSL offers a monthly independent living skills class called Living and Learning. It includes one hour of communication/social skills games and role play, an hour of employment refreshers, and an hour of healthy cooking. This is a free class, with an RSVP. 

Contact Cathy Palmer – cathyp@dsoflou.org – to get started with Living & Learning!


Down Syndrome of Louisville does not offer transportation. Many adults who attend our
programming use Tarc 3 or Cedar Lake for transportation.

Cedar Lake Transportation
Kelley Kendall (502) 649-9942


Residential Living Options

DSL does not offer residential housing, but there are some suggestions that are working
for some of our members.

Cedar Lake

Dreams With Wings

Day Spring

Contact DSL!

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