Allowing high-functioning individuals to serve in the military is an awesome idea. I ran across this article and I absolutely fell in love with it. To know that my child will have more employment opportunities is really a dream come true. As a mother of a special needs child, James, who was diagnosed with (ASD) Autism Spectrum Disorder at age 4, this is something that I have thought about and wondered if it would ever be possible for the military and for my son. One of my life fears is- at what level of independence will James achieve as an adult. Because of this, I am super proactive in my son’s life, as well as his pediatrician, his special education teacher, and speech pathologist.
Since James was 14 months, I have been researching programs that assist special needs children and have been getting him the help he needed. Also now, I reinforce activities and communication as he learns them in school, I often read with him, I complete 5 to 10-minutes homework assignments, I incorporate him into community activities, such as summer camps, and he plays at the our family YMCA center where they have a 2-hour play period with children who mostly do not have any cognitive and developmental delays.
Although we are on the right path, and we are still trying to close that developmental and speech gap with his age as much as possible. I do not want to fail my son, I am his protector and his voice right now. Now, at almost 7 years of age, he is able to speak in 3-4 word phrases, he is able to read this first sight words in complete sentences, and many other things. James is supper intelligent, he just learns differently. As I have learned, Autism is not a disability, it’s a DIFFERENT ABILITY!!! So, don’t count my future astronaut out!! If you didn’t know, autistic individuals may excel is art, science, music and/or art. James autistic super-power is Science. He is captivated with the solar system, the planets, rocketships, and astronauts.
FUNNY STORY: While visiting Disney World in Orlando, last summer for his 6th birthday, we were on day 2 of a 6-day trip. I stopped by the brochure stand of the hotel to get another Disney map. Maybe,…70 brochures were on display, and “lo and behold,” guess which brochure he spotted almost immediately, the one with the huge rocket ship on it, Kennedy Space Center. He got so ecstatic!!! In the months leading up to our trip, I had already known that NASA was only a 55-minute drive from Disney, but decided not to go to keep my funds/spending down. But, when he pointed and then took the brochure, he said, “this one.” I just could not resist the glow and excitement in his face. What the heck- Disney was truly a once in a lifetime experience for us and now we can add NASA to our list.
Also, I have learned that the services that are offered here in Montgomery, Alabama are very minimum for adults with special needs, and almost non-existence for employers that employ individuals with special needs that are high-functioning. So, I too agree that the military should allow high-functioning autistic individuals that fit the requirements of all other servicemen and women and possess the ability to complete the job as required. I understand that all people do want to go to the military, but for those who do, they will be just as proud to serve their country. And, at least it is another option.
Here is another article about a car wash owner that mostly employs autistic individuals. Click here. This is awesome!
This blog is dedicated to my son, James for National Autism Awareness Month.