Summer can be a challenging time for all families with an autistic child, with the need to plan as many consistent activities as possible. For military families summer often means having to move and there is little that is consistent or predictable about this for autistic children.
Military families face relocation many times, sometimes even every year depending on the rank, career field and branch of service of the serving member. There are approximately 20,000 families in the military that have an autistic child; many families have more than one child with the condition, making it a highly significant number and issue. Autistic children tend to receive a lot of help from specialists, such as speech therapists, ABA therapists, occupational therapists and standard pediatricians.
Once therapy and medical providers have been found, military families then have to re-establish referrals for all of them in order for evaluations to be scheduled. Military families regularly face a break of between one to four months for these services every time they move. A number of families have decided to part company with the military due to the problems associated with constant relocation when they have an autistic child.
There are a number of grassroots efforts that have been set up to try to assist military families in this situation. One is American Military Families Autism Support, which has local groups and is in the process of creating a global database comprising everything from natural grocery stores to therapy providers in all areas.