National Autism Awareness Month
The prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder has risen over the last decade to one in every 68 births in the United States. Diagnosing the disorder can be difficult because doctors review a child's behavior and development to make a diagnosis as opposed to medically testing.
Autism Spectrum Disorder can sometimes be detected as early as 18 months or younger. By the age of 3, a diagnosis by an experienced professional can be considered reliable. Since there is no known cause of Autism Spectrum Disorder, an early diagnosis and access to appropriate services can lead to significant improvements in a child's development. While there are many different types of treatment available, both medical and nonmedical, no single treatment is effective for each child. Therefore, the basis of a care plan should come from the evaluation of a child's strengths and weaknesses.*
An autism diagnosis can come as a surprise, but there are professional resources and families willing to share their experiences that can help you make sense of it all:
- Visit the Exceptional Family Member Program office at your local Military and Family Support Center for information about possible local resources available to you and your family.
- Prepare for your family financially. The cost of treatment can have a significant impact from medical care to special education. Learn about medical utilization and costs, possible assistance available through TRICARE's Extended Care Health Option and the resources available through TRICARE's Comprehensive Autism Demonstration which covers Applied Behavior Analysis commonly known by its abbreviation, "ABA." View the Q&A section for more information.
- Include everyone. Autism affects the entire family and learning to discuss autism with your child's siblings may make them more open and comfortable with the topic. Find materials to help improve your family's quality of life.
Supporting others in their time of need can serve as a great source of comfort. You can volunteer with others to support an autism event or create your own. Show your support and appreciation for National Autism Awareness Month in April by wearing your Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon or posting it to social media. No matter the route you take to supporting the autism community, your help can improve the lives of all families impacted by autism.