In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families. As many posts have discussed, the challenges are especially great for military families.
The Navy has hired two special education lawyers as part of a three-year pilot program to expand support for service members enrolled in the Exceptional Family Member Program.
The two civilian attorneys, who have a background in special education law, began in November to assist families trying to get services for special needs children through federal laws put into practice differently in school districts across the country, said Lt. Cmdr. Nick Stampfli, legal assistance department head at the Legal Services Office for Mid-Atlantic Region. Navy families can find themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to special education because frequent moves mean they are regularly entering new school districts with different rules and resources.
“We just really want to level the playing field with what a family that doesn’t move often gets,” he said. “We do see a direct impact on readiness when a family is taken care of and sailors are not worrying about a problem at home, especially a problem with their kids. It’s much easier to deploy.”
The Defense Department’s Exceptional Family Member Program, known as EFMP, is a mandatory enrollment program run by the service branches for military members with an immediate family member, usually a child or spouse, who has special medical or educational needs. The program is meant to assist during the orders assignment process to make sure service members are sent to locations where they can access necessary resources.