Many military families are impacted by autism. Based on current prevalence rates, an estimated 23,000 military dependents, including children of active duty, reserve and guard families, have autism. These families are substantially affected by the financial and emotional costs of raising a child with autism.
Military life is particularly difficult for children with autism and their families. Given the frequent duty station changes and social turmoil of military service, military children with an autism spectrum disorder often face additional challenges with which their civilian counterparts do not have to contend.
A specific feature of autism is extreme difficulty with life, routine, or environmental changes of any kind. These children need a set routine, stability, and continuity of services and relationships. Military life by its nature provides few of these needs. This situation is likely to weaken the morale of the parent serving the military as well as the caretaker at home.