It’s no secret that it requires a great amount of patience, emotional intelligence and great follow-up skills when submitting documentation for services for your autistic child. Tricare overall is a good health care plan, but when it comes to the accuracy and efficiency of getting services for our autistic children it falls short of the mark.
In order to help facilitate change it is time for all of us within the military autism community to start factually documenting and then aggregate our problematic experiences with these organizations over a certain period of time. I would suggest a 6-month period.
Here is the simplicity of what I am suggesting:
1) Get a notebook binder – something you can easily take notes in to document your efforts from start to finish.
2) Every time you submit documentation to Tricare, ECHO, or EFMP (or any organization that you regularly deal with) keep a copy of what you submitted and log in your notebook the day, time and specific person(s) you sent the documentation to. Ask when you will see a result from your submission. How long will it take to fulfill your request?
3) Proactively follow-up on progress of your submission with emails and/or calls and document the day, time you called and who specifically you spoke with. Also, make a note on the progress of your submission. Did they lose it and ask you to submit it again? When you called did you get different guidance or were asked to send additional paperwork that should have been sent the first time you submitted? Document all of this and how the guidance differed from this individual from the last individual. Ask again when you can expect results from your request.
4) Follow-up again with them in a timely matter to check status. And as #3 above, document any inconsistencies, delays the day, time and who specifically you spoke to (first and last names).
5) Continue steps above with every effort of paperwork submission or change in services or programming until one of the following happens: A) You get it resolved and everything is put into place properly, B) You reach a level of frustration and have procured enough documentation to take your complaint to your chain of command to see if they can assist, or C) You are getting nowhere and not it is time to take all of your factual, specific documentation that you have collected over the past months (or perhaps years in some cases, lol) and take your matter up with the Inspector General, or perhaps even your congressman.
We have been guilty of complaining at time about the issues these organizations have. It is difficult not to do with the error-prone system each of these organizations seems to have in place. I contend that the only way to start to help the system get better is to push within. And in order to accomplish that we need FACTS. We need many parents to document the FACTS of the problems, lost documentation, wrong guidance of paperwork, delays, inaccuracies, etc. If we can create a groundswell of documentation from hundreds or even better, thousands of families, who are willing to take the time to get a notebook and document, I believe we will start to effect change in a positive way.
This will take diligence and commitment. But, I can assure you that when it comes time for resolve, FACTS are what speaks volumes. If you ever go to Due Process with your school district, or file a state complaint, the judge will want to hear the FACTS, not your opinion, conjecture or the like. As Ronald Reagan said, “Facts are pesky little things.” The more we have to push into the face of Tricare, ECHO and EFMP the better the organizations will be forced to comply more efficiently with the needs that all of us in the military autism community have.