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The Experience of Military Families with Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders During Relocation and Separation

Abstract

Military families with a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are underrepresented in the literature. In order to provide appropriate services, research must be done to determine the needs of these families. A qualitative methodology was used to interview military spouses with children with ASD about their experiences with therapeutic services. Overall, results indicate military families with a child with ASD experience challenges associated with both the military lifestyle and having a child with special needs. Due to their membership in two groups prone to support limitations and therapeutic service accessibility issues, military families with a child with ASD may be at additional risk for high levels of stress and difficulty obtaining and maintaining ASD related services.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank all of the families who graciously gave their time to participate in the interviews and the groups and families that helped forward our recruiting message. Additionally, we would like to thank colleagues, friends, and family who offered guidance and support through the duration of this project. Thank you for your help and support.

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Correspondence to Jennifer M. Davis.

Appendix

Appendix

  1. 1.

    What was the process of getting the ASD diagnosis like for you and your family?

    1. a.

      Did you seek help from military and/or nonmilitary health care professionals?

    2. b.

      When was the first time someone mentioned the word ‘autism’ to you in relation to your child?

  2. 2.

    After your child was diagnosed with ASD, what were your next steps?

    1. a.

      How did you learn about different options provided by military entities for your child with ASD?

    2. b.

      How did you learn about different options provided by nonmilitary entities for your child with ASD?

    3. c.

      What were the biggest supports for you in this process? What were the biggest challenges?

  3. 3.

    What were your experiences obtaining services for your child with ASD?

    1. a.

      Did you use any military services on/off base? Did you use any nonmilitary services?

    2. b.

      What aspects of obtaining services for your child were helpful and positive?

    3. c.

      Did you have any challenges obtaining services from either military or nonmilitary providers?

    4. d.

      Has being in the military impacted your experience obtaining services?

  4. 4.

    What are your experiences maintaining services for your child with ASD?

    1. a.

      Did/do you use any military services on/off base? Did/do you use any nonmilitary services?

    2. b.

      What aspects of maintaining services for your child have been relatively smooth?

    3. c.

      Did/do you have any challenges maintaining services from either military or nonmilitary providers?

    4. d.

      Has being in the military impacted your experience with maintaining services?

  5. 5.

    What are your experiences with the consistency of services for your child with ASD?

    1. a.

      What is the consistency of services between providers in various locations? (e.g., between school and private, military and nonmilitary, etc.)

    2. b.

      What is the consistency of services between locations? (e.g., after PCS moves)

      1. i.

        Have you had access to the same types of services? Have you had access to the same amount of service?

    3. c.

      Has the level of consistency at different installations or locations impacted service/intervention your child with ASD has received?

      1. i.

        What were the most positive aspects of this process?

      2. ii.

        What would you consider to be the biggest challenges in maintaining consistency of services for a child with ASD while being a military family?

  6. 6.

    Do you feel that military families with children with ASD have adequate resources and support?

    1. a.

      If yes, why? What resources are helpful? If not, what could be improved?

    2. b.

      Has your family encountered any challenges during deployments?

    3. c.

      Has your family encountered any challenges during PCS moves?

  7. 7.

    Is there anything else you would like to tell me about your experience with having a child with ASD?

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Davis, J.M., Finke, E.H. The Experience of Military Families with Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders During Relocation and Separation. J Autism Dev Disord 45, 2019–2034 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-015-2364-2

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Keywords

  • Autism
  • Therapeutic services
  • Military families
  • Qualitative interview