Military Families with Children Diagnosed with Autism: Have No Fear, Your Benefits Are Still Here!

After confusion and chaos ensued following a rumor that military parents of children with autism would suffer a loss in benefits for therapy services, Dr. Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs and director of the TRICARE Management Activity assured the worried families that nothing is changing. The existing Defense Department pilot program is simply being enhanced, to provide better care for military families. According to statistics, 8,500 children of active-duty families are diagnosed with autism, and Dr. Woodson insisted that,

“We understand that there’s a lot of anxiety in the community of interest around autism about suspected changes that would adversely affect care. Providing care to children who have autism spectrum disorder and making sure they get the full range of care they need is a priority to us.” [i]

Any families who receive benefits in Applied Behavior Analysis through TRICARE would remain the same, as well as under the Enhanced Access to Autism Services Demonstration. Retired families will also receive these benefits. The purpose of the program, according to Dr. Woodson is to provide “great insight” into protocols for the evaluation and diagnosis of autism, after being developed by the consultations of autism experts. In addition, the program aims to tend to the needs of children with autism from military families, while getting feedback from the parents on the progress.

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