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.
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
by Nicholas Sabula
Today was supposed to be the day we published our annual State of AMFAS article, but with some news that I saw this morning, I feel there is something much more important to address: Bullying.
If you haven’t yet, I suggest you read the story of a boy who is now in a coma because of bullies. While it doesn’t specify whether he had autism, that is irrelevant.
To put it straight, I’m furious. My family has dealt with bullying issues for our son this school year. While it’s been frustrating and time consuming dealing with the administrators to get action, it’s critically important to show the school system this is an issue that has no grounds for discussion.
As military families, we are perceived to be tough, handling all that service to our nation requires.
But what about our kids? Having Autism should not mean that it’s acceptable for them to be subjected to this action that destroys their learning environment and damages their confidence in life.
Some of the feedback we’ve received or witnessed on Facebook pages has left me with a helpless feeling. Our kids are being teased, assaulted mentally and physically; this has led to children contemplating and even attempting suicide. This has to stop!
A few weeks back our AMFAS Council discussed creation of a bully resources page in our AMFAS Information Library. A project officer was appointed and this was a long-range goal. Due to recent events with several AMFAS members we are putting more emphasis on this project.
There are lots of bullying resources available, but the challenge we face is that military families have different problems, from schools seeing our families as temporary residents, to not understanding military life and the additional challenges we face. Then you throw in autism. We as military family members need to know steps we can take to get help when it seems we are alone on this.
We’re looking to the AMFAS community to participate in this project to help our families. If you have something to contribute in fighting this tremendous issue, feel free to send an email to email@example.com. This is a tremendously important issue and together we can make a difference.
COLUMBIA, Md.–In an effort to focus on strategic issues impacting military families dealing with autism, American Military Families Autism Support announces the formation of a steering committee aimed at ensuring top-level support.
Over the last few months the AMFAS Council has looked at a number of areas to ensure representation and teamwork focused on all possible areas of autism support.
One of the results was creation of an AMFAS Advisory Panel to provide a rudder of sorts to the organization’s programs and ensure AMFAS continues to improve its mission of providing news, information, community and support to military families dealing with autism spectrum disorder.
The panel does not participate in the day-to-day operations of AMFAS.
“This is not a symbolic move, but an effort to bring the greatest advocates and experts in the military autism community together to affect real change and support for our families,” said Nicholas Sabula, AMFAS founder.
The following people have joined the panel:
Scott Campbell: Scott, father of two, one with autism, is known military-wide as THE preeminent autism expert. In fact, the AMFAS concept was modeled on his approach to helping families. Without regard to notoriety, he has continually focused on helping individuals understand the best options for their families. He has served as a board member of Parents Of Autistic Children of Northern Virginia (POAC-NoVA) and of the Autism Society of Northern Virginia (ASNV).
Karen Driscoll: Karen, mother of three, one with autism, is a longtime champion of fighting for appropriate access to care for our families, to include the TRICARE limitations of Applied Behavior Analysis coverage. Karen was instrumental in the creation of ACT Today! For Military Families in 2010, serving as the first campaign director. She now serves as associate director for Federal Government Affairs & Military Relations for Autism Speaks.
Jeremy Hilton: Jeremy, father of two, one with autism, is best known as the 2012 Military Spouse of the Year. However, many might not be aware of his long standing support connection with behind the scenes support efforts for all military families with special needs. He has contributed significantly to AMFAS over the years through a number of means and provides candid, needed insight in the realms of legislation and policy issues, increasing support and direction.
American Military Families Autism Support was founded in December 2008 as the first national grassroots effort to support all military families dealing with autism. Learn more about AMFAS at amfas.org or facebook.com/militaryautism.
by Nicholas Sabula
Founder, American Military Families Autism Support
It’s amazing we’re already a month into 2013. I hope everyone is in good health and spirits as we begin the shortest month of the year.
Next week we’ll put out the annual State of AMFAS post, giving you some reflections on actions in 2012 and our focus for the rest of 2013.
As our recent feedback survey spoke loud and clear, we’ll put it bluntly: AMFAS is going back to basics. The holidays are long over, PCS season is coming soon, and it’s time to start making a difference.
The air is becoming crisper and the trees are starting to change color, meaning it’s been a year since we put out our last AMFAS Status Update for Fall. We hope everyone is getting ready to start toward the holiday season very shortly.
Since our beginnings in 2008, AMFAS was established to lead the way in supporting our military families as a true collaborative effort. Because of the importance we put on transparency, it’s vital to give a status update on the AMFAS project and share some opportunities you in the community have to help the only organic (by military families) national grassroots effort specifically focused on Autism Spectrum Disorder.
American Military Families Autism Support continues to look for new and innovative ways to support our families. The benefit of having a great community is that there are a lot of great ideas on what can be done better.
AMFAS is the first national community specifically for military families dealing with autism, started back in 2008. We aren’t a one-stop-shop for all special needs, which allows us to focus on delivering the most concise interest items for our families dealing with ASD and provide support no one else can match.
If you’ve thought about how you can make a difference for military families dealing with autism, we have a number of opportunities.
By Nicholas Sabula
When I started work on the American Military Families Autism Support project almost four years ago, I never imagined the amount of time and effort I would be spending on it.
The thing about passion is that it calls for investment in an outcome. Trying to help make a difference for our military families dealing with autism is serious business. Despite having a great team of people in this fight, it’s also quite draining.
A few months back came the realization that our family needed to take some leave. A lot. The magical number of 100 days of leave built up through the end of September (25 of those use-or-lose) meant some serious vacation time.
On July 1, 2009 American Military Families Autism Support Facebook page became the first effort focused on autism and the military.
Since that time the AMFAS page has been a central point for our families to get the most relevant and current information related to military life and autism.
In fact, for 2012, Babble.com recognized AMFAS as not just the No. 1 Facebook page for military families dealing with autism, but the top Facebook autism page overall.
As we’re maintained, it’s our community that makes this page worth visiting. The vast majority of our community members are military families in need of support.
Suggesting to a friend or family member, especially one who hasn’t been introduced to the intricacies of what you’ve been through, could be a way to open them to better understanding your perspective.