Record the Facts and Keep Your Cool!

Well, my postings have been infrequent lately as we are tidying up affairs and prepping for my upcoming deployment. I wanted to give an update to the saga we have gone through with trying to get a reassignment or a move subsidy to relocate the family to Florida. After speaking with my brigade commander last Friday I believe I now have the support of my unit and the Army to do the right thing for my family. I won’t go into details here, but this latest experience, as well as that of getting a victory in the state complaint, reminds me of two important must-haves when advocating for your autistic children (especially in the military): 1) Document EVERY fact that happens along the way. Write it down (A short pencil is better than the longest memory). 2) Keep your emotional intelligence through every trial. Remember the word ‘advocate’ is synonymous with the word ‘fight’. The best professional boxes and mixed martial arts fighters don’t become champions by getting angry in the ring. They win by keeping a cool head in the fight and then and tactically and proficiently attacking and wearing their opponent down. During my requests I received support from some, doubt from others and certainly the normal resistance of the big Army “system”. However, I never let the distractors cause me to get angry, belligerent or insubordinate to those of higher rank in the process. That would solve nothing and only cause greater resistance. Because I had WELL DOCUMENTED FACTS, was able to convey those facts in writing and discussions with thorough expertise and confidence, and kept a cool head through an emotional process I was able to get support(advocating for your own kids always causes your blood pressure to soar – especially when you meet resistance from those who are trying to deny you from providing the best for your kids). Advocating for autism is much like declaring war on the system. Much has to change in our society regarding the image, treatment and support for people living on the pathways in autism. In the Army, there are glaring shortcomings with the EFMP support for autistic dependents. But, wars are not won with one big fight. They are won in a succession of battles – some of which are won and some are lost. However, to win the war you have to win more battles than lose. Sometimes you will wage the best tactics, have all the facts and keep a cool head and still lose. That’s just life. But, if you work hard on getting the facts, understanding the nature of whatever you are trying to advocate for and make yourself an expert in it (we’re certainly not there yet, but we’re well on our way) and then defend your platform with emotional intelligence then you certainly will rack up more victories than losses and win the ‘war’.