The Right for Autism Services for U.S. Military Families

Autism Services for Military Families

by Leslie Burby
If America is the “home of the free and the brave” – shouldn’t “the brave” and their families receive the necessities that they need?  There are fundraisers and drives to supply the soldiers with military equipment, boots, food and electronics to communicate with the loved ones they are separated from while they serve.  So if one of them becomes injured and is forced to retire, shouldn’t we continue to provide healthcare services?  Have they not given their all?  Can you honestly look a wounded warrior in the eye and tell them that their child’s autism treatment is no longer going to be covered because they retired due to injuries they sustained during combat?  Maybe that’s what’s wrong with today – accountability.  No one has to look anyone in the eye anymore.  We just send an email.
Autism Services For US Military

Tricare restricts ABA services to active members and their dependents only and only allows an annual benefit of $36,000.  A $36,000.00 annual benefit would only allow for approximately 6 hours of ABA services a week compared to what the American Pediatrics Association’s recommendation of 40 hours a week.  In addition to this limited benefit, ABA services are not provided to retired military which includes children of wounded warriors.

In an effort to save money, these “unaccountable people” have neglected to provide the minimum services needed to autistic children of military families.  However, one thing still stands true – FREE SPEECH!

Thankfully, an army wife and mother decided to do something about the lack of services that the Pentagon’s healthcare program, Tricare, provides.  With the help of Rep. John Larson, on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012 the “U.S. House of Representatives approved the annual defense authorization bill” including a “provision requiring Tricare to no longer cap certain behavioral health treatments for dependents of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps members and retirees.”

On December 5th, 2012, the “Senate approved a new Department of Defense budget bill amending ABA benefits for the 23,000 military families raising children with autism.  “Both the House and the Senate had approved a permanent expansion of ABA benefits” but those benefits have been shrunken down to a one year pilot program.

On January 3rd, 2013 President Obama signed a one year pilot program expanding ABA to all military families.  These benefits will start in 90 days from the January 3rd signing and then the Department of Defense has to report back to Congress within 270 days with the associated costs these changes bring.

I can’t help but wonder what will happen if the bill comes back to high? Is there such a thing as too expensive when it comes to the care of our children?

Leslie Burby

Leslie Burby

Leslie Burby is the former Editor-in-Chief of Autism Parenting Magazine and a public speaker on autism related issues. She is the author of three autism related books: Emotional Mastery for Adult's with Autism (2013); Early Signs of Autism in Toddlers, Infants and Babies (2014); and the children's book Grace Figures Out School (2014).