Military life with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can present unique challenges when dealing with relocation, deployment or separation. Awareness of these experiences can help families prepare for the many changes to come.
ASD affects how people grow and develop. Because it is a lifelong condition, families face different challenges as their loved one gets older. Like other transitions, planning and preparation can help support the process.
Understanding what happens during deployment can help families and active duty members prepare for the changes ahead.
Pre-deployment starts when service members get their deployment orders and goes until the day of deployment. And pre-deployment can change with little notice. Several things happen before deployment. Active Duty Service Members (ADSM) generally spend long hours getting ready and going through training. Plus, they must complete pre-deployment tasks, get paperwork together, set up childcare, move family members among other things.
During deployment, military families can have things come up at home that make it hard to get used to the new way of living. For example, friends and family may live far away and the family may be worried about the ADSM’s safety. The spouse or caregiver at home may find it hard to deal with new tasks or chores they must handle.
Homecoming may be an exciting time. But, like other life changes, homecoming can upset the family’s routine. The ADSM’s return can change any new bonds the family formed during the deployment. And homecoming doesn’t mean life will be the same as before. Families normally must make a number of changes when their loved ones return from deployment.
For Active Duty Family Members (ADFM), relocations happen frequently. Each permanent change of station comes with challenges, especially for families impacted by ASD.