Discover a World of Independence

OPTIONS (Optimizing Potential Through Individualized Ongoing Nurtured Successes) offers a comprehensive boarding program for post-secondary students with learning disabilities, attention disorders, language-based disorders, and/or executive functioning deficits. We service students who need to further develop their independent living, social, employment, and academic skills through individualized instruction and assistance. With the help of OPTIONS instructors, Independent Living Counselors, and specialized academic coaches, our students are successfully guided through speech and language courses, core academic strategies, college preparation and participation, social strategies, employment readiness classes, and community-based internships. As students transition through the program’s phases, they acquire and refine the tools necessary for an independent life.

OPTIONS Transitions to Independence has been empowering students for over twenty-five years. Initially housed on the Brehm Preparatory School campus, OPTIONS has evolved and expanded its services to provide students with comprehensive support within a collegiate atmosphere that advances their accomplishments and cultivates lifelong learning.

Our Mission

OPTIONS Transitions to Independence is a post-secondary transitional program that aims to empower students with learning disabilities and differences. Our specialized services encourage—and teach—students to recognize, optimize, and utilize their potential throughout their lives.

Individualized Instruction

Our core curriculum is designed to introduce students to a wide range of skills while providing them with individualized support services. As students learn to identify their strengths and acquire new strategies for success, they progress toward one of two programming tracks: the College Transition track or the Vocational Certificate of Completion track.

Transition Levels

Students at OPTIONS progress through three phases. Each individual begins in the Standard Phase, which is designed to assess their aptitudes and needs. As they learn various self-management skills and demonstrate the capacity for independence, they move into the Modified Phase. Gradually, and with the support of our staff, they can move into the Extension Phase, in which they experience real-world responsibilities with supportive guidance from staff.


OPTIONS team members communicate with one another daily. We also join together at weekly meetings to share insights into our students’ progress and which strategies are working best for them.  Additionally, we examine the difficulties they may encounter. At times, a number of smaller situations may be pieced together to reveal a more comprehensive and sensitive understanding of our students’ experiences and needs. Solutions are then formulated and strategies are put into action in order to resolve problems and foster student growth—a collaborative effort that is much like assembling a puzzle with partners. This process meticulously documented and our staff are committed to following up with one another, with students, and with families to confirm progress. Such dedicated communication forms the basis for the delivery of quality services to OPTIONS students and is the reason for our consistent growth.

Parents & Families

OPTIONS parents and families are integral members of the OPTIONS team.

OPTIONS prides itself on clear, frequent, and open communications with students and families. Therefore, families of OPTIONS students can expect regular communications from our team. Each student’s advisor schedules consistent communications with families, and comprehensive progress reports are shared each quarter. OPTIONS also hosts Parent and Family Conferences twice each year—once in the fall and and once spring. These events present opportunities to meet with advisors and other members of the OPTIONS Team in order to nourish family connections and involvement, which are paramount to student success

“After struggling with parochial school, I was diagnosed with ADD and OCD. Soon after, I began attending Brehm and OPTIONS, which helped me through community college and then Southern Illinois University. Thanks to the lessons I’ve learned from Brehm and OPTIONS, I’m only the second person in my family to graduate from college.”
— Pete

The OPTIONS Program provides golden opportunities to very special students. OPTIONS teaches students how to learn and, therefore, how to succeed at the college level and as citizens.

Dr. Lloyd Burtch

Professor, John A. Logan College

I used to be rebellious. I didn’t care about much. I was depressed a lot. When I came to OPTIONS, things really turned around for me and everything got better. I have a great internship that I can build into a career, as well as a new attitude and a great outlook on life.


Student, OPTIONS Transitions to Independence

We find being a partner in the OPTIONS Internship Program very rewarding. The students we have worked with over the years have all proven to be hard-working, enthusiastic and willing to take on new challenges out of their comfort zone to help them grow as young adults.

Brad Palmer

WSIU Public Radio

OPTIONS impacts my life in a big way. Working with a Speech and Language Pathologist, in both group and individual sessions, has vastly improved my language skills. I live on my own and use the strategies I’ve learned to find solutions for my daily issues.


Student, OPTIONS Transitions to Independence