Name: Lindsay Wilson
Service Connection: U.S. Army spouse
Location: Fort Campbell, Kentucky
What is your autism story?
Our story focuses around our two great kids who are both on the spectrum. They are polar opposites in many aspects, which can make things a bit of a challenge when dealing with both at once. One seeks high sensory input and the other is a sensory avoider. One is very laid back and the other bounces off the walls.
But despite their differences they are so very similar in regards to social situations, tactile issues, rigid routines, and being very literal with things. We’ve struggled through doctors who didn’t know, schools who didn’t care, and hopeless feelings of failure throughout the years. We just seemed so lost with no answers until we found a great group of people who finally had stories just like ours. Their encouragement, understanding, directions, and acceptance really helped us get to the right people who cared enough to take extra time and get the right diagnosis and treatments in place.
Our daughter wasn’t diagnosed until the age of 13 and our son was 7 when diagnosed, so as you can imagine for many years we just tried our best and hoped that we would find someone who would help us sort all the pieces of what was going on. Once those pieces were sorted we were able to get the services started that were going to be vital to their success. It’s definitely been a much different road not getting those early interventions and has taken lots of work, but we’re getting there.
I have to say that when your child finally at age 8 turns to you and spouts off a perfectly-executed joke (complete with punch line) it’s a moment that stops your heart, warms your soul, and brings tears to your eyes. It’s been a long rough road with lots of struggles and triumphs but at the end of the day we’re blessed to have two amazing kids who will inspire many as they continue to grow and prove to others that anything can be accomplished with an amazing cheering section behind them.
What is the toughest part of being a military family dealing with Autism Spectrum Disorder?
The toughest part for me would have to be the continuity of medical care and schooling. Just about the time you get things set up and flowing well, it seems as though orders come through and you’re back to square one. It’s the repeating of past medical history over and over and trying to reteach a new set of schools all about your child. Its exhausting feeling like the reset button keeps getting hit and you have to find those services and providers all over in a new place.
What bought you to AMFAS?
The need to be part of a community that “gets it.” There is nothing worse then being in a room of parents and not feeling like anyone truly gets what your days are like. I like being able to share the highs and the lows of this road we travel with families who can appreciate the little things and getting a chance to interact with other military families who might be new to this and have questions or just need some support.
What made you want to start an AMFAS group for Fort Campbell?
We started AMFAS Fort Campbell to have a group geared specifically to the military members, lifestyle and the additional challenges that we face. Knowledge is power and when we all get together and share our experiences, our triumphs, and our failures then we start to empower more and more families. This road is much easier when you know you aren’t alone; we’ve all been in that place where we felt like we were the only ones and it’s not fun. Having a network to turn to when you need advice, encouragement, and understanding is vital when you are faced with frequent moves, new places, new faces, and having to restart with many things in a new place.
Learn about all available AMFAS Groups and how to start one in your area here.
Lindsay Wilson, center, with family. Wilson started the AMFAS Fort Campbell group to help military families dealing with autism who are stationed in Kentucky. Courtesy photo