Resources for military families

Flag photo by Paul Farley, courtesy of the U.S. NavyWhile working in Hawaii I had the chance to provide support to many families who were in the military. The needs of these families were similar to any other family living with autism — things like teaching their child social skills and supporting their children to become as independent as possible.

Being in the military did present some unique challenges, however. Military families relocate. A lot! Families have to find local services and supports with each move. And when a family member is deployed, the parent left behind has to manage all of the parenting duties on their own.

The challenges these families faced provided me with a challenge as well. It was necessary to develop a new set of skills to ensure that their family needs were being addressed. I discovered services and supports available solely to military families. There were new acronyms to learn, like EFMP, ECHO and PX.

The Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) offers family support services. The Extended Care Health Option (ECHO) is a supplemental program providing financial assistance for services and supplies to eligible active duty family members. I also learned about the Post Exchange (PX) — the military has its own stores where many items families needed were remarkably inexpensive.

I had to learn a whole new vocabulary to work with the military. The military truly is a world unto itself! The Organization for Autism Research has just released a new resource for military families. Life Journey through Autism: A Guide for Military Families hopes to give family members:

  • An understanding of autism and related intervention and treatment.
  • Strategies for addressing the challenges of autism from the time of diagnosis through adulthood.
  • An overview of the Department of Defense (DoD) and service policies related to having a child with autism.
  • Information on autism treatment options and coverage within the military healthcare system
  • Practical information and tools to guide your child’s education
  • Tips and advice relative to transitions such as permanent change of station (PCS) moves, new schools and more.
  • Links to additional resources relative to autism and military families.

The resource is free to military families and $5 for the rest of us. I know as a service provider to military families I would have loved to have had this resource in my back pocket.


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