Did you know that the month of April is set-aside as ‘Autism Awareness Month?’ In today’s blog we highlight Autism Spectrum Disorder, its potential effects on military families and resources for military helping professionals.
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD is mostly commonly known and referred to as Autism. Individuals with ASD may display either high-/or low-functioning Autism. There are several distinct diagnoses and symptoms for ASD as it relates to social communication skills, fine and gross motor skills, unusual responses to sensory input and intellectual skills.7
Causes of Autism
You may find that ASD occurs more often in people who have certain genetic or chromosomal conditions.13 If you are working with a parent who has a child with ASD, there is a 2-18 percent chance their second child may also be affected.6,11 Studies show that among identical twins, if one child has ASD, then the other will be affected 36-95 percent of the time. However, if the twins are fraternal the chance of the other child having ASD reduces to 0-31 percent.4,8-9,12
Autism in the U.S.
Autism affects many Americans across the country. In fact you, yourself may know of individuals with ASD. Let’s take a quick glance at ASD in the U.S.
- ASD’s prevalence in the United States is estimated at 1 in 68 births (CDC, 2014).
- ASD is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups (CDC, 2014)
- More than 3.5 million Americans live with ASD.2
- ASD is almost 5 times more common among males (1 in 42) than among females (1 in 168) (CDC, 2014).
Cost of Autism
ASD can be costly for families, accounting for approximately $236-262 billion annually.2 On average, medical expenditures for children and adolescents with ASD were 4-6 times greater than for those without ASD.10 In addition, rigorous behavioral interventions for children with ASD cost $40,000 to $60,000 per child per year.1
Autism and Military Families
For military families, dealing with the stress of relocation, deployment and the culture itself can put an added amount of stress on families, compared to civilians. However when the military family has a child with special needs, more specifically a child with Autism, stress can be even greater for the family. There are many issues that these families are faced with when their child has ASD, such as:
- Emotional distress when a parent or family member is deployed.3
- Availability of services when relocating to a new installation.3
- Schools not having the services to meet the needs of ASD children, which may lead to possibly filing for mediation and due process if the caregiver feels the school is not meeting the Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE) law.3
Resources to Support Families with Autism
To learn more on how you can help support your military families and caregivers on ASD check out the resources below.
 Amendah, D., Grosse, S.D., Peacock, G., & Mandell, D.S. (2011). The Economic Costs of Autism: A Review. Autism Spectrum Disorders, 1347-1360. Retrieved March 10, 2016
 Buescher, A.V., Cidav, Z., Knapp, M., & Mandell, D.S. (2014). Costs of Austism Spectrum Disorders in the United Kingdom and the United States. JAMA Pediatrics JAMA Pediatr, 168(8), 721.
 Davis, J.M., & Finke, E.H, (2015). The Experience of Military Families with Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders During Relocation and Separation. J Autism Dev Disord Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45(7), 2019-2034.
 Hallmayer, J. (2011). Genetic Heritability and Shared Environmental Factors Among Twin Pairs With Autism. Arch Gen Psychiatry Archives of General Psychiatry, 86(11), 1095.
 Is it Autism? What Should I Do? (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2016, from http://autism.about.com/od/whatisautism/u/symptomsdiagnosis.htm
 Ozonoff, s., Young, G.S., Carter, A., Messinger, D., Yirmiya, N., Zwaigenbaum,L., Stone, W.L. (2011). Recurrence Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Baby Siblings Research Consortium Study. Pediatrics. Retrieved March 10, 2016
 Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children Aged 8 Years – Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2010. (2014). Retrieved March 15, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss6302a1.htm?s_cid=ss6302a1_w
 Ronald, A., Happe, F., Bolton, P., Butcher, L.M., Price, T.S., Wheelwright, S., Plomin, R. (2006). Genetic Heterogeneity Between the Three Components of the Autism Spectrum: A twin Study. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 45(6), 691-699. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
 Rosenburg, R. E., Law, J. K., Yenokyan, G., Mcgready, J., Kaufmann, W.E., & Law, P. A. (2009). Characteristics and Concordance of Autism Spectrum Disorders Among 277 Twin Pairs. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 163(10) 907.
 Shimabuluro, T.T., Grosse, S.D., & Rice, C. (2007). Medical Expenditures for Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder in a Privately Insured Population. J Autism Dev Disord Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38(3), 546-552.
 Sumi, S., Taniai, H., Miyachi, T., & Tanemura, M. (2006). Sibling risk of pervasive developmental disorder estimated by means of an epidemiologic survey in Nagoya, Japan. Journal of Human Genetics J Hum Genet, 51(6), 518-522.
 Taniai, H., Nishiyami, T., Miyachi, T., Imaeda, M., & Sumi, S. (2008). Genetic influences on the broad spectrum of autism: Study of proband-ascertained twins. Am. J. Med. Genet. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics, 147B(6), 844-849.
 Top 10 Easy Autism Facts to Share with Friends and Family, (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2016, from http://autism.about.com/od/whatisautism/tp/topfacts.htm
This MFLN-Military Caregiving concentration blog post was published on April 1, 2016