April provides us with the opportunity to celebrate two amazing groups of individuals; military connected children and people with autism. Today we celebrate Autism Acceptance Day!
Autism is a spectrum disorder characterized by deficits and challenges with social skills, communication, and unusual interests and behaviors. The challenges presented by this complex neurobiological disorder are amplified by the frequent moves, changes in primary care physicians/specialists, and other unique demands the military lifestyle presents.
What Is Autism Acceptance?
Autism Awareness has deep roots. The Autism Society of America launched the first annual National Autistic Children’s week in 1972, later evolving the event into Autism Acceptance Month (AAM). In 2007, The United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day.
This year, many organizations are attempting to shift the focus from awareness back to the original message of acceptance. The autism community has spent many years educating people about autism and will continue with their efforts to spread awareness, however the community would now like to shift the focus to promoting acceptance.
Autism by the numbers
According to the Center for Disease Control:
About 1 in 54 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network.
ASD is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic.
ASD is more than 4 times more common among boys than among girls.
Celebrating Autism Acceptance Month
Tell Your Story
At Partners in PROMISE we love data, stories complete us. We would love to hear about your journey through autism as a military-connected family. If you would like us to share your EFMP story, contact us at email@example.com. In addition to sharing your story, your voice can be heard by participating in one of our surveys. Our Legal Resource Survey is currently live and we are working on building the 2022 Special Education Survey that will be out later this year.
Educate Yourself & Others
Educate others about autism and the importance of acceptance. Focusing on both topics will help foster change through improved support and opportunities across the board for autistic individuals.
Connect to Resources
Partner Resources – OAR
At Partners in PROMISE we rely upon the experts! That is why we have partnered with Resource Partner Organization for Autism Research (OAR). OAR’s roots are similar to Partners in PROMISE. The organization was founded by a group of individuals with a direct connection to their cause, autism. But they also have a military connection! One of the founding members and current Executive Director Michael Maloney has been active with the Autism Society of America and is a retired Marine with over 20 years of service. Here are some of their military programs:
Operation Autism first launched in 2009 with a specific purpose in mind, to address the unique needs of military families with autistic children. “Our purpose in creating Operation Autism is to offer a friendly, inviting, and useful resource tailored to the needs of these families.” Said OAR Executive Director Michael Maloney. Users can expect to find information and resources on autism, autism interventions and treatments, the military healthcare system, strategies to ease transitions and PCS moves, and other resources relevant to autism and military families.
The resources are tailored for parents regardless of where they are on their autism journey and are also relevant for immediate and extended family members, teachers, and others who work or interact with children with autism. The website is complimented by its companion guidebook, Life Journey Through Autism: A Guide for Military Families. While the website will maintain time sensitive updates and legislation, the guidebook will be a physical resource parents can utilize during key points in their autism journey.
Life Journey Through Autism: A Guide for Military Families
Strategies for addressing the challenges of autism from the time of diagnosis through adulthood
An overview of the Department of Defense and service policies related to having a child with autism
Information on autism treatment options and coverage within the military healthcare system including Tricare ECHO and the Autism Care Demonstration
Practical information and tools to guide a child’s education
Tips and advice relative to transitions such as a PCS move, new schools, and more
Links to additional resources related autism and military families
Glossary full of military, autism, and special education terms
To download a digital copy of the guide book or request a hard copy, click here.
There are many organizations that provide quality resources to share with friends, family, and professionals that may work with your child.
The Organization for Autism has specific resources for all people in an autistic child’s life, including parents, teachers, siblings, peers, and potential employers. The organization also offers scholarships for autistic individuals and grants for research and education.
The Center for Disease Control provides a wealth of information for parents and professionals. The CDC provides information on a variety of topics including research, data, screening & diagnosis, treatments, and related articles and resources. While the CDC has many great resources, “How to Talk to the Doctor About Developmental Concerns”, provides a dialogue for parents to use when approaching their pediatrician, early intervention service office, or their local school.
Many organizations provide multiple fundraising opportunities including organization stores, runs/walks, Giving Tuesday, stocks, workplace giving, charitable donations, etc. To support the efforts at Partners in PROMISE please click here.
Attend an Event
Even with current COVID restrictions, there are plenty of ways to attend events. Partners in PROMISE will be hosting a Trust Your Gut Series running every Tuesday in April and May. The Organization for Autism Research offers various webinars, both live and archived on their site. And a simple Google search of “Virtual 2021 Autism Acceptance Events” will provide you with events such as the United Nations virtual workshop or Duke University’s Center for Autism and Brain Development online Autism Acceptance Month Speaker. Don’t forget to check out your local Autism Society chapter as well as any other local autism organizations.
While April is dedicated to spread awareness and encourage acceptance for autistic individuals, this group deserves to be celebrated every day!