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Toward Innovative, Cost-Effective, and Systemic Solutions to Improve Outcomes and Well Being of Military Families Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder 

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The burdens faced by military families who have a child with autism are unique. The usual challenges of securing diagnostic, treatment, and educational services are compounded by life circumstances that include the anxieties of war, frequent relocation and separation, and a demand structure that emphasizes mission readiness and service. Recently established military autism-specific health care benefits set the stage for community-viable and cost-effective solutions that can achieve better outcomes for children and greater well-being for families. Here we argue for implementation of evidence-based solutions focused on reducing age of diagnosis and improving access to early intervention, as well as establishment of a tiered menu of services, individualized to the child and family, that fit with the military ethos and system of health care. Absence of this new model of care could compromise the utility and sustainability of the autism-specific benefit.

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