Today is Armed Forces Day, a national day to recognize the honor and sacrifice by all members of America’s military.
Whether you have served one day in the military or you personify a lifetime of service, today is for you. America is grateful for your service.
For our military members who have a family member with autism, you serve above and beyond, and deserve an extra salute.
This day have been around almost as long as the Department of Defense. It was originally announced by Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson on August 31, 1949. The recognition of all our armed forces replaced individual Army, Navy and Air Force Days and was signified unification of all services under the recently created Department of Defense.
President Harry Truman announced the official day on Feb. 27, 1950, through a proclamation stating, “Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 20, 1950, marks the first combined demonstration by America’s defense team of its progress, under the National Security Act, towards the goal of readiness for any eventuality. It is the first parade of preparedness by the unified forces of our land, sea, and air defense.”
Service to our country can be difficult in itself. For many the days are long, tough and stressful. The moves, requirements and being on call 24 hours a day, every day is part of the military lifestyle.
The military members go through a lot, and it takes a lot out of you. Many members have security clearances that pre-empt any discussion of how work actually was. Often the military member has to hold back on a lot of stresses, especially in a deployed environment, as to not concern the family back on the homefront.
When you have to deploy at a moment’s notice and leave your family behind, you miss out on life. Not just the birthdays, holidays and weekend outings, but the simple things that most people take for granted, such as a smile, having dinner together and living life.
This is especially difficult if your child has autism. You cannot be there for supporting them and if something really goes wrong, you are half a world away.
The other 99 percent of our nation’s citizens have no idea how hard it is to do some of the things our families do. But they are supportive of your role, regardless or politics or perspective on war.
On this 63rd celebration of your service, enjoy your day.
Mother’s Day is a special opportunity to recognize the importance of moms in our society.
But today is about more than just celebrating motherhood for our Autism community.
Simply put to all our mothers out there, today is a day to honor your commitment and sacrifice.
You are a mother. You are a warrior for your children.
Being part of a military society, the term warrior is often associated with the lifestyle of service. This is you in more ways that you know.
You fight, you face the challenges that families not in the military might not appreciate and you are what make today’s military family function.
Whether serving on active duty, Guardsman or Reservist, or as the critical role of Commander in Chief della casa, you play a crucial role in keeping the family as a cohesive unit.
There are so many facets to your service: deployments, exercises, TDYs, permanent change of station moves, operational necessity, and being the rock for others. You are at the center of all these, regardless of whether you wear the uniform or not. The work may feel unappreciated, but you are very much appreciated.
The mother warrior deals with all the above, with life and and something more. There is Autism Spectrum Disorder and perhaps other challenges as a special needs parent.
To all of you who never back down and never give up, the community salutes you. You are the brave, the inspiring and the ones who are changing the world.
You are part of the military community, yet different. You are part of the Autism community, yet different. You are a Mother Warrior and deserve recognition for all you do through the tough fight to set your children up for success in this tough world.
This is no slight to the dads, who celebrate a day of their own next month, but every one of them are most likely to give the credit to the mom. It’s important to note that on our Facebook page 80.8 percent ( up from 80 percent last year) of the over 3,400 community members are women. While all might not be mothers, a large proportion of the commenters on our daily questions, posts and interactions are.
It’s these mother warriors asking the questions no one wants to answer to find a solution that doesn’t exist for children on the autism spectrum. These mother warriors are persistent and showing the true love they have for their children by never, never, never giving up.
Thank you moms for keeping up the fight in our war on autism. Together we can make a difference!
Whether caring to admit it or not, everyone who has every attended school has been impacted by a teach in some fashion.
If you’re in the first category, you might be interested that today is National Teacher Appreciation Day and May 6-10 is National Teacher Appreciation Week.
While the day is a general recognition of the great teachers who have changed lives, it also needs to serve as an opportunity to say thanks to all the teachers who have made a difference for our family members with autism spectrum disorder.
Think for a moment of all the people in your child’s life who have gone the extra mile for them. Ask yourself this: what teacher, or teachers, do you appreciate, and why?
There’s a lot of people who can fit the role of a teacher outside of the normal school structure. For instance, would you consider your ABA therapist a teacher? How about the speech therapist, special education team lead, or other person who works directly with your child? In a special education environment, even an aide can act in the form of a teacher, providing vital feedback and encouragement to the student.
Today is a great chance to reflect on those who have served in a teaching capacity and made a difference. Take the time to give thanks to those who will make such a difference in your child’s future, or have in yours.
To our surprise American Military Families Autism Support was again recognized for the important role it plays in supporting military families dealing with autism spectrum disorder.
I am an Army wife and mother of four. My husband and I are stationed in Fort Lewis, Wash., and we have one daughter, age 5, and three sons, ages 2, 4, and 9. All of our boys have autism. My husband has been in the Army for about three years now and during that time we not only faced the hardships of adjusting to this new lifestyle, but we were hit with the reality that there is definitely a genetic component to autism.
My oldest son was already diagnosed years ago, but in the last 18 months we have faced the diagnosis of our other two boys. I really wanted to find support here, and I found it extremely challenging trying to balance my busy life with trying to meet more families like mine locally.
There was also the constant battle of explaining the special needs of my children whenever we were in public. I decided to throw myself into increasing the network of parents here at Joint Base Lewis McChord and I began leading a parent support group that meets monthly at the Children’s Museum of Tacoma. The group has rapidly increased in size, but the majority was civilian families. This is where the concept for the autism walk began. I wanted to create an event that would draw families like mine out and give them an opportunity to connect with their community, share their story, and increase awareness locally in support of their children with Autism.
I proposed the idea to my husband’s unit, the 593rd Sustainment Brigade. I was astounded by their willingness to jump on the idea and help me make it a great success! They helped me access rentals from the MWR and gave me a staff of volunteer soldiers to help run the eight booths which offered resources, food, and yard games.
The best way I could think to really have a visual impact at the event and allow families to in some way share their story was to create the signs. I collected information from EFMP and the school district and determined that 150 signs would be a good approximation of the number of school age children here and around JBLM diagnosed with Autism. I thought I was aiming too high, but amazingly nearly 70 families contacted me wanting their children’s names on signs! I collected photos and names of all the children and the remaining signs bore the “1 in 88” statistic that was released at that time by the CDC as the risk for autism. (Since the event, this number has changed to 1 in 55 I believe).
Now the challenge I faced was creating a successful event that could entertain a large number of people, with no money. I got creative and made a few calls. Families helped spread the word and small $3-$5 donations showed up here and there, but the greatest help came from some local stores that donated some of the supplies or discounted them for me. Home Depot donated 150 long paint sticks to mount the signs, and Joanne Fabric never batted an eye when I came in there with 20 printed coupons!
One by one I put the signs together, created two large banners, and 22 large signs with facts about autism that were posted along the route of the walk. I had some amazing volunteers help me when they were able, but by April 1 my living room was taken over!
It was a constant emotional roller coaster preparing this event. I was so happy to connect with all the families that participated and every time I felt overwhelmed and wanted to quit, my email would ring with a new child’s photo and I would be reminded of why this was so important.
The day of the event was amazing. I was able to coordinate with the developmental pediatrics staff at Madigan and have Dr. Geneman speak at our event. We also had representatives from Air Force EFMP, Army EFMP, and the commander of the 593rd address our audience about the impact of autism, how families can find support, and how our community can support us.
I spoke on behalf of the families and shared a bit about my story.
After the walk I was in tears. There were parents who came and thanked me for sharing my story and felt they were represented well.
This event was a great success and I hope I will be here next year to push for another one in April 2014!
Thanks to Carolina for sending us this interesting Infographic (graphic courtesy of www.nursedegree.net)
Have an autism or special needs support group with no connection to AMFAS? We want to help you.
Since being started in 2008, American Military Families Autism Support has had a keen focus of trying to provide help and support to military families stationed at any location worldwide through our grassroots efforts.
The truth is that there are a ton of installations and communities out there and lots of families are still finding out about what we offer.
Since 2010 we’ve been working to expand our AMFAS Groups program, locally-run autism support communities with the common AMFAS theme and standards. AMFAS currently has 36 local support communities for military families dealing with autism. However, there are a lot of installations where either an AMFAS Group hasn’t been established since a local sponsor hasn’t requested to start one or that AMFAS found there is currently adequate support available at the installation by another group.
There are incredible established groups out there who are already providing support and information to military families in their areas.
Our mandate here is trying to ensure that when a military family moves from place to place, that there is a good hand off. As military families, not a corporation, AMFAS team members understand this. We’re in your shoes too.
With lots of groups being stood up, there is still a lack of information about what is available at what location. We’d like to fix that and help these groups support and contribute to our national effort.
Because of this AMFAS started the AMFAS Affiliate Program, meant to help improve an already broad support network for military families located worldwide.
Any group supporting families with autism or other special need is able to join. The benefits of this are obvious: affiliated groups gain access to support from AMFAS and are included in our Affiliated Groups listing, a subset of our Groups listing to help support non-AMFAS efforts.
By becoming an affiliate, groups are provided opportunities to network and access support content in the AMFAS network. They are part of a military autism coalition. Non-autism groups are also welcome to join the affiliated network and will be listed in the Worldwide Installation Resource or other locations on the AMFAS website.
Outside community groups interested in joining the AMFAS Affiliate Program must agree to some basic terms such as military family focused and must respect all member’s perspectives on care. Non-military groups are welcome to affiliate with AMFAS, with the understanding that our focus is the military family.
Groups can become official AMFAS groups at any time by agreeing to our standardized terms of support. For more information, simply send us a note to firstname.lastname@example.org to get started or visit the AMFAS Affiliate page.
Do you or someone you know have an autism or non-autism support group? Why not become part of our AMFAS Affiliate Program. Our focus is http://amfas.org/community/affiliate-program
For weeks, I culled through the data, reading through it over and over and, when the time came, commencing the gritty task of actually analyzing the data.
The task consumed me. Sleep eluded me. I forgot to eat. All I could think about was the data. The words of the families came to life, I could hear their voices, see their images and, all too often, felt their pain and struggles.
My dog recently got out of the fight, but over the course of the last year, a number of issues and pieces of information have come to light and maybe it is just time to share them with other EFMP families.
Last fall, I had the good fortune to work with a good deal of really rich qualitative data focused on DoD families and their exceptional family members.
A little info about research and data analysis. . . .bear with me as my professor self emerges for a few seconds. . . .