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Monday, January 25, 2016

Service Delivery and Military Families

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families.

At The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Jennifer M. Davis, Erinn Finke, and Benjamin Hickerson have an article titled: "Service Delivery Experiences and Intervention Needs of Military Families with Children with ASD."  The abstract:
The purpose of this study was to describe the experiences of military families with children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) specifically as it relates to relocation. Online survey methodology was used to gather information from military spouses with children with ASD. The finalized dataset included 189 cases. Descriptive statistics and frequency analyses were used to examine participant demographics and service delivery questions. Results indicated the larger sample of military spouses largely confirmed the experiences reported qualitatively in previous studies and contributed information that was previously unknown about variables associated with the access, availability, quality, and frequency of intervention services for military families with children with ASD.
From the article:
Many respondents reported difficulty accessing needed interventions, limited availability and proximity of providers, lack of continuity among service plans, and unsatisfactory
quality of school interventions. Although reducing relocations may not be a feasible option because they are required for the mission of the DoD, establishing and/or modifying some existing supports may address the breadth of barriers reported by these military spouses. For example, a support that may address several issues is telehealth interventions. Telehealth interventions have the potential to increase availability and accessibility of services and clinicians while limiting proximity and continuity concerns.
 Reducing more specific barriers, however, may necessitate putting new supports in place for these military families. Among the 11 service delivery experiences, five experiences were reported to be barriers by at least 60 % of military spouses and three of those were related to access. This indicated accessing interventions for their child with ASD was likely the most challenging service delivery category for military spouses; therefore, targeting access barriers may be an effective starting place for improving service delivery to military families. One support that could be established to help reduce access barriers and facilitate finding interventions may be a military-spouse mentor program. This program would link families with a child with ASD at a base with other families with children with ASD who are relocating to that base. The mentor could assist the mentee in finding providers and navigating the new community and school system. Another support for reducing barriers to finding services may be an up-to-date online resource for military parents to help locate providers in their area who accept Tricare.
Further, military spouses with children with ASD reported dissatisfaction with IEP continuity and quality of school interventions. Establishing a PCS protocol outlining
responsibilities for the military family, as well as for the old school and new school would streamline the transition and may increase parent perceptions of IEP continuity and quality. Compiling these resources into one parent friendly, comprehensive website may help to facilitate military parents’ ability to participate in these programs and utilize these supports to locate services, understand legal mandates, and better advocate for their child and family