Time for honesty, having children while being a Marine is difficult. Moving, changing friends, schools, everything is just plain difficult. Now take your child, your sweet little boy, and add a brain tumor. Difficult doesn’t really state the whole essence of the situation, but for this article we can say that it sucks. After a few years, you start to get the schedule down and he begins to live a normal life with his sister. Then at 5 add autism on top of that, something that you kind of knew in the back of your head, but now it’s here for real and you have to figure our what’s best for your child. What’s that rule that taught in grade school? Hard…Harder…Hardest. Something like that. Autism and The Marine Corps just doesn’t mix well.
So let’s get into what this blog is for, help those as much as we can through experience and communication. Share some of the hard learned skills encounter through trial and error. Make your life just one bit easier, if we possible. Here we go!
5 Tips Regarding Autism and The Marine Corps
Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP)
Start the process with EFMP immediately. Talk to your command and get pointed in the right direction, EFMP managers will assist you in every singe step. Here are a few key points for those seeking assistance with autism.
ECHO is a supplemental benefit for Active Duty military special needs families. ECHO offers services and supplies that are not available through the basic TRICARE program and will cover up to $36,000 a year in qualifying expenses.
- Assistive services (e.g., qualified interpreter)
- In-home respite care services (please see section below)
- Home Health Care (please see section below)
- Medical and rehabilitative services
- Training for assistive devices
- Special Education, including Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy
- Transportation in limited circumstances
- Institutional care when a residential environment is required
- Durable equipment, including adaptation and maintenance
- Assistive technology devices
Also, once ECHO is complete you can move on to Autism Care Demonstration and get ABA services started as well
When the appointments start to rack up, or you find yourself not able to keep up with the medical referrals and what is needed, you can request a case manager from the Naval Hospitals or clinic. This was a huge asset to our family, especially in the beginning. We were traveling to UNC Chapel Hill, going to 24 hours of therapies a week, and more.
We were able to have prioritized housing at every base housing we lived at. This put us at the beginning of the wait list and getting us ADA homes, wth no stairs and other amenities. In Chesapeake VA, we were also able to have a sign put up on our street letting people know to slow down, since Carter often ran hard and fast when he was younger, putting himself in danger if an adult was not fast enough to stop him.
Individualized Education Program
For kids to receive special education services, they need an IEP—an Individualized Education Program. If your child has been evaluated, the process of getting one has already begun. But there’s still a lot to learn about how the process works and what your role will be. This is even true in military schools, and is a tool for you. Ensure you keep it updated, turn it in to EFMP, and force your school to stick to it.
Being on EFMP and having a child with autism is closely looked at within the Marine Corps and receiving orders. Now I’m not saying you won’t get bad orders, I am just saying they will not send you family where your child cannot receive services. YOUR FAMILY. Doesn’t mean you can receive unaccompanied orders anywhere else, but your family will be taken care of. Personally, through 16 years I have always been taken care of with the monitors, mostly because I was willing to move around and do whatever. I still deployed with Carter having autism and his brain tumor, which was tough, but I still was able to get it done. This took family effort on all sides, but we were willing to do the hard stuff to make sure Carter was taken care of.
So here is From Tumor 2 Autism’s 5 Key Tips you should know about Autism and The Marine Corps.
Comment below your tips for those reading the article.