Schedule, routine, structure, all are words that relate directly to the military lifestyle right? Well if you really look at it he answer would be yes, for the actual service member! Yes the service member has many rules and structured daily lives. But what about the family members? Well I can tell you that it’s not the same.
My husband for instance can work a number of different jobs in his area of the medical field. And each base we have been to he has worked two or more throughout the years we were at the base. He has worked 24 hour shifts, he has worked the “easier” 730-430, and also the get to work at 6am to get work done and still not get home until 630pm shift. All of this makes it hard to have any consistency with meal times and family time.
So what about when you throw Autism into the military world? What about when the service member is up and gone for weeks, months at a time? Or home for dinner for two nights and then not again for weeks? We know that Children with Autism thrive on routine and structure so is the military life the best choice?
Well my opinion is that it’s great for them. Don’t get me wrong there are downfalls but we would find that in any career choice. But what I can say in our family is that the military has been amazing. We have the most important thing which is an insurance that takes care of both of our children’s individual needs. It’s not always easy to get those things, sometimes it’s pulling your hair out just to get someone on the phone who knows what you are talking about. But I’m the end they are taken care of.
I also feel like the moving, TDYs, missed meals or late meals, and the constant unknown has helped our child with Autism. His whole like has been military so it’s all he knows. It allows us not to have to be so strict on routine. It allows us to be like hey grab your coat and put down your toy we are going to get daddy early from the airport, without some big meltdown over the change.
I know both my boys are still very young and sometimes don’t even notice the changes, but I am confident that if we keep living the life we are living it will be their “normal.” I know that was the case for my husband and myself with all 4 of our parents serving in the military. It’s all we have known so it’s what we know to do for our kids. I can just say I’m thankful!! Thankful for a career that provides a roof over our heads, food on our table, and all the therapy and doctors my kiddos need. We will never be rich in money but we can be rich in security!