As an Army officer with autistic dependents I was very eager to read the new book “Special Needs Families in the Military: A Resource Guide” by Janelle Hill and Don Philpott after I first saw a preview of it in the Army Times two months ago. This is another book in the military life series by Philpott which helps service members and their families deal with the significant yet often overlooked difficulties unique to military life.
The book focuses more on the broad scope of special needs instead of any single disability. It addresses the programs, systems, specific benefits, legal issues, caregiving & support, education, medical care, insurance, advocacy and coping strategies surrounding special needs families in the military. While it is designed for military families, this book could be just as helpful for any parent who has just learned that their child has a disability and needs special help.
The book begins right from the initial shock that every parent experiences when they learn about their kid’s disorder – the whole, “My kid has what?” question that we ask our pediatrician or specialist conducting those initial screenings. The book follows a linear flow and then embraces the softer, emotional issues that all special needs families have to experience and adapt to. Beginning with chapters focused on “First Steps” and the “Diagnoses”, the book takes you through detailed explanations of all the topics listed above. This book is a MUST READ for those who have just learned about their kid’s disability, but it will also be a blessing for those more schooled on the issues or who are looking to refine or better their ability to advocate for their dependents.
The authors have a very easy to digest style that takes complicated issues like IDEA and other federal laws, proper advocating strategies, navigation of the military health care system Tricare, ECHO and the Autism Demonstration. ALso helpful are the wealth of resource information, both print and online, directing the reader to further dig in to resources available to any given special needs situation. Resources like Wrightslaw, STOMP and a plethora of websites and organizations that can provide some sort of assistance to families in very valuable.
My recommendation is that you get a copy of this book today as a resource as you navigate the pathways of autism and advocate for your child. For military families the book is a MUST HAVE as it will help you understand what is available to you regardless of service branch, rank or disability.
When it comes to reading books in order to self-develop and educate yourself to make you a more effective and productive leader in your field, I think Ben Franklin said it best when he said, “If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can ever take it away from him.” Invest in your mind to make yourself a better and more informed advocate. Your auttie will thank you someday for your dedication in his development!