Bringing you important info about topics that matter.

The DSAGSL will bring you a recap of what you might have missed in previous weeks as well as additional information about other important topics. If you would like more information about a particular issure featured in this edition, contact Erin at

Upcoming Events/Programs you don't want to miss:

  Bodies and Boundaries
  Saturday, April 12th
  9:00am - 3:00 pm at St. Lukes Hospital in Chesterfield

  Terri Couwenhoven, the nationally known author of Teaching
  Children with Down Syndrome about Their Bodies, Boundaries and
  Sexuality and certified sexual educator is hosting an interactive
  workshop on sexual learning in individuals with disabilities,
  normal sexual development across the lifespan, and issues and
  concerns during puberty and beyond.

Linda Kronmiller, a parent of a teenager who has Down syndrome, shared her experience about this workshop.  "I attended Terri's workshop when my son, Eric, was only 5 years old. I didn't realize at the time how important this information would be in teaching my son personal safety and appropriate boundaries. Eric is now 17, and the skills I was able to teach him through Terri's workshop are very natural to him. He is appropriate, and he is safe! I encourage all parents with children of all ages to attend Terri's conference."

For more information about this unique
workshop, contact Erin at

  NEW Topic for April Coffee Talk
  Tuesday, April 15
  6 - 7pm at the DSAGSL Office

  Due to scheduling, we have made a change to April's Coffee Talk
  topic. The DSAGSL and Wellness Center will bring you, "Exploring a
  Dual Diagnosis: Signs and Signals of Down syndrome/Autism." We
  will present Down syndrome and Alzheimer's Disease in June. For more information about this unique workshop, contact Erin at

This Month's Topic - Special Needs Financial Planning

Coffee Talk - Financial Planning for Caregivers of Individuals with Special Needs
Presented by Valeri Baker and Sal Ferranto, Special Needs Planners, Cornerstone Financial Group and MetLife Center for Special Needs Planning.
On Tuesday, March 18th, Valerie Baker and Sal Ferranto joined us for Coffee Talk at the DSAGSL Office. They presented to parents and caregivers about the many considerations in planning for your child with special needs. Below are 10 steps to help caregivers get started in preparing for the financial future of their dependent with special needs. Each circumstance is unique, so caregivers should consider their own situation carefully. You can also find the information archived at the DSAGSL website.

     1.  Plan for future medical, educational and housing needs for your

     2.  Review beneficiary designations. To continue to receive federal aid,
          dependents with special needs cannot have any assets in their name (cash,
          art, jewelry) that is worth more than $2,000.

     3.  Have a family meeting to discuss your dependent’s future needs. Just as
          caring for a dependent with special needs is a family affair, so is the related

     4.  Speak with a special needs financial professional and create a team of
          professionals to assist you in planning.

     5.  Contact local nonprofit organizations for additional resource support. The
          Down Syndrome Association and other local nonprofits can provide resources
          that can help with planning.

     6.  Apply for government benefits. Government benefits- such as Medicaid and
          Social Security – may help provide for your dependent’s needs in the form of
          medical treatments and supplies, equipment, financial assistance and more.

     7.  Prepare your Last Will and Testament (review and updated periodically). A
          Will declares how you want your estate to be distributed and allows you to
          select a guardian for your dependent when you pass away.

     8.  Consider setting up a special needs trust. This allows caregivers a way to
          provide for their dependent’s care and quality of life, without disqualifying
          them for federal assistance.

     9.  Apply for guardianship and conservatorship, if applicable. Caregivers must
          apply for a guardianship or conservatorship to maintain legal control over
          financial and healthcare decisions one a dependent reaches the age of 18.

    10. Prepare a Letter of Intent. Although not legally binding, this document is
          important for providing direction for the person or persons who will care for
          your dependent with special needs and should be stored with other vital
          documents, such as your Will.

Check out These Books

The DSAGSL has many books in our in-house lending library about special needs financial planning. You can browse our entire lending library by visiting, by clicking here and entering library name DSAGSL (no password necessary).

Our most popular books on these topics include:

The ABC’s of Special Needs Planning- Made Easy, by Bart Stevens (2002)

The Special Needs Planning Guide: How to Prepare for Every Stage of Your Child’s Life by John Nadworny (2007).

Special Needs Trusts: Protect Your Child’s Financial Future, by Stephen Elias (2007)

Special People, Special Planning: Creating a Safe Legal Haven, by Peggy Hoyt (2003)

Additional Resources
Finally, the DSAGSL attempts to offer as much information online for parents and caregivers across our region. You can visit the resource section of the DSAGSL website for access to information on many topics including planning!

If you have specific questions or concerns about your child’s behavior, feel free to contact our office at 314.961.2504 or join our private Facebook group “DSAGSL Sharing Our Strategies.”

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Upcoming Events

Visit our calendar online for events from us, our community groups, third party fundraisers along with Pujols Family Foundation, Albert Pujols Wellness Center at St. Luke's and DADS St. Louis!

Save the Date!

Bodies and Boundaries - April 12
Family Picnic - May 10
Bike Camp - June 2-6
Step Up for Down Syndrome-June 8
Find a Community Group
To connect with families in your area, visit our Community Group directory on our website. 
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