Ann Gibbons, known locally as Philip’s mom, is Autism Speaks’ Senior Regional Director for the Southeast. She writes us from her office in Washington, DC.
In October, I received an email from Stephen Niman at 11th Hour Search, Inc., a veteran-owned small business in northern Virginia. Stephen and his colleagues had purchased and gift-wrapped 18 iPads. He asked me if he could drop them off at my office so I could re-distribute them to autistic children in the military families living and working in northern Virginia.
Why was he doing this? He succinctly wrote: “All of our iPads are for needs-based families because it is our belief that you should not need to win the lottery to communicate with your child.”
Many military families are affected 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.
HOW YOU CAN HELP: Please write your two U.S. Senators and urge them to vote for the Murray-Gillibrand amendment to the 2014 Defense Authorization bill. Our wounded, retired warriors need their children to have the same access to behavioral therapy as they received before their soldier-parent went from active-duty to retired status.
Take action here. We have emails already addressed with a message ready for you to send.