Military Families Confront Autism

Every family affected by autism experiences stress, but try to imagine the burdens of a military family coping with the disorder. Not only is the father or mother at risk in a foreign land, but military families have to move frequently as they are reassigned to new bases. These disruptions and uncertainties would be a struggle for any child, but for one with autism, can be overwhelming.

Recent statistics indicate that one in eighty-eight children of active duty service members are affected by autism and less than ten percent of these children are receiving the care and attention they so need and deserve. Military insurance or TRICARE, currently has an overabundance of red tape that takes months and even years to negotiate — precious time lost in the quest for early intervention. And existing ABA coverage is capped at half the number of recommended hours of treatment per week.

The Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act seeks to rectify this situation by eliminating this cap and streamlining access to services. It also extends autism services to dependents of military retirees. 

Congressmen John Larson (CT) and Walter Jones (NC) introduced the bill in June after a grassroots effort by wives of servicemen brought this crisis to the attention of Congress. These staunch advocates point out that challenges of autism, coupled with the lack of access and cost of treatment, can push their families to the edge. After years of active duty, no one wants to tell their spouse they can’t retire and must return to the war zone in order to pay for their child’s autism treatment.

To find out how you can support the Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act go to


Susan Moffitt is the mother of high functioning twin sons with autism. When not advocating for them, she pursues her multiple creative passions of fine art, piano composition and writing. She is the author of "Upstream," a compilation of poetry, fiction and anecdotal tales that deal with raising twins with autism. For more information, visit

10 Responses to Military Families Confront Autism

  1. Hi, we are in a similar situation. My husband is retiree, we have a 4 year old non verbal severely autistic child. Tricare does not cover any therapy for her! I am so glad to read that somebody is trying to do something about that. Please contact me if there is any way I can help in supporting that effort! We have come up with a facebook site for our daughter and have contacted the government of the country we are currently living in. It looks like we might get more help here than in the US…!/pages/Help-Jessy-Fight-Autism/190992860937170?sk=info

  2. Susan says:

    The link at the end of the article is about the bill and
    this is a military support for autism page:

    You daughter is radiant. Good luck to you and your family.


  3. Anne McElroy Dachel says:

    It seems that children of members of the military who have autism are treated much like the children of civilians. A rate of one in 88 for these kids is nothing less than a disaster. To further read that less than 10 percent of them receive the services they need, is the worse form of neglect. It’s an outrage.

    In the general population, autism affects one percent of children and almost 2 percent of boys. (This according to outdated research on children born in 1998.)
    Health officials can’t tell us why, despite spending millions of dollars on research over the last 20 years, they can’t say what’s causing so many of our children to be disabled. They have no idea why many thousands of parents report that their children were born healthy and were developing normally until they received certain routine vaccinations. They call it all just a coincidence and they have lots of pharma-funded studies to prove it.

    Our medical community and federal health officials refuse to address autism as the health emergency that it clearly is. Both the Congress and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention need to be held responsible for their absolute failure to make autism an urgent national priority.

    Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

  4. Susan says:

    Thank you for writing…SM

  5. Maurine Meleck says:

    I know a number of people who depend on Tricare for their children on the spectrum. Some get it, others have more difficulty. In other words, it’s not straight forward coverage that it needs to be–and it often takes a very long time . This is terrible and unfair–just as it is for the majority of children all over the country who have so much difficulty getting coverage for their autism needs. The problem will only get worse
    as the numbers of affected children increase. Course, health officials continue to say they don’t know what is causing the spidemic. However, more and more research is pointing to the environment—and vaccines in particular.
    maurine meleck, SC

  6. Susan says:

    Follow the money. Monolithic entities that stand to lose will ride the brakes in autism research and use the media to vilify people asking hard questions.

  7. Veronica says:

    The pharmaceutical companies and the United State Government know exactly what causes Autism. They have utilized the media, their own manpower, and millions of dollars in an attempt to suppress the true facts relating to what really causes Autism. It’s just another government conspiracy; aided by the pharmaceutical companies. The pharmaceutical company lobbyists spend millions of dollars wining and dining Senators and Congressmen in order to do their bidding. If the true facts about the liability on the part of the pharmaceutical companies ever became known, it would bring about the largest law suit against them; and would embarass the very government who is suppose to be protecting our children. Think about it!

    Go to the “Google” website and look-up the following:

    “Deadly Immunity” (Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.)

  8. Rachel says:

    Thank you so much for sharing and for your support of our military families with autism.

    It will take the voice of many to see the Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act come to fruition. So many of our brave men and women are counting on all of us.

    Thank you so very much.

    -Rachel Kenyon, ‘Mrs. Sergeant Major’

  9. Susan says:

    It’s not hard to imagine autism to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

    Warmest regards to you and all military families facing autism.


  10. Holly Marcum, Occupational Therapy Graduate Student says:

    I am currently studying the issue with Military Families Affected by Autism. Please reply with an idea of how occupational therapists can assist with this issue of Tricare and assessing OT services after each deployment. Could a list of occupational therapists available throughout the US and beyond near military bases assist with contacting services for your child with autism? I appreciate your comments for my study.

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Did You Know?

  • * In 1970, Autism affected 1 out of 10,000 children
  • * Autism now affects 1 out of 88 children
  • * Autism affects 1 in 54 boys
  • * 1.7 million Americans have some form of autism
  • * 4 out of 5 autistic children are boys

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