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AUTISM IN THE MILITARY

Military_ribbonsManaging Editor's Note: We reprinted this with permission from Angela Warner, who runs the "Autism Salutes" blog about autism in the US military.

By Angela Warner

The time has come for everyone to stop referencing the Center for Disease Control (CDC) statistic which states that 1 in every 150 children has an autism spectrum disorder. Did we really ever believe the numbers the CDC presented to the world? Do we rarely believe anything that comes out of the collective mouth of the CDC? If the CDC wanted to tell the truth, they wouldn’t have had to look far to get to that truth.

For far too long it has been we the parents and our national autism organizations who have uncovered and spoken the truth. We are speaking the truth again, and the CDC needs to be confronted.

In early October of 2007, Dr. Edward Yazbak and Ray Gallup of the Vaccine Auto-immune Project (VAP) released a report titled: “When 1 in 150 is Really 1 in 67” (HERE). This report which puts the autism prevalence at 1 in every 67 children is based on Department of Education statistics.  Keep in mind that Dr. Yazbak and Ray’s report only includes children who qualify for special education services through the autism eligibility category. This excludes potentially thousands of children, including my own. If your child has a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, but qualifies for special education through an Other Health Impaired or Developmental Delay category; your child is not accounted for in the 1 in every 67 children report. Our schools can not keep track of all of our children.

A few days ago a fellow military advocate mom sent me a document (HERE) that was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The information in the FOIA document confirms Dr. Yazbak and Ray’s report.

The statistics contained in this FOIA document cover a 24 month period of tracking. They only include those children or adults who were seen during this time period by medical personnel who used one of the many diagnosis codes pertaining to ASD. Plain English; if the child or adult was not seen for something relating to their ASD by a provider who accepted Tricare during that time period, they are not included in the stats. Again, this excludes potentially thousands of children due to the limited tracking time. And again, all of our children can not be kept track of; this time by the military and Tricare.

The document obtained explains that there are a total of 22,356 people with a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder service wide (includes all branches of service); the vast majority are children of active duty or retired active duty dependents with ASD. The vast majority comprise a total of 22,027 military dependent children with autism. Of the 22,027 military dependent children with autism, 13,243 are children of active duty members.

According to a 2005 Department of Defense (DoD) publication (HERE) (click on the download feature to view) there are 1,177,190 military dependent children service wide (page 49). This is what the numbers show:

1,177,190 (children service wide) /13243 (active duty (AD) dependent children with autism service wide) = 1 in 88

Due to the limitations of the tracking I think it’s safe to say that a heck of a lot of children were missed.

According to the FOIA document there are 8,784 dependent children with autism of retired military members. Information on the total number of dependent children of retired members has been hard to come by. Again, no one is keeping track, or so it seems.

So let’s play with some numbers, shall we?

According to the above mentioned 2005 DoD report (page 36), there were 52,270 members that retired between 2000 and 2005. According to the DoD report, the average number of children in an active duty family is two. Let’s cover the last 20 years of members retiring, and come up with a guesstimate of how many military dependent children of retired members there are. If there are roughly 52,270 members retiring in every five year period we have a total of 209,080 retired military members. If each of those retired members has on average, two children (refer to DoD report page 47), we would have roughly 418,160 military dependent children of retired military members.

418,160 (military dependent children of retired members) / 8,784 (military dependent children with autism of retired members) = 1 in 47

Now granted folks, we’re working with the second part of this equation which is a guesstimate number…

88 (active) + 47 (retired) = 135/2=67

WHAT! you say?

Yes, you are reading correctly. 1 in 67 military dependent children with autism.

“When 1 in 150 is Really 1 in 67”, in our schools.

“When 1 in 150 is Really 1 in 67”, in the United States Armed Forces.

It is time to start sounding the alarm bells, and every warning system we have. The autism tsunami has made landfall. It is time to confront the CDC. It is time to take this new information to our Congressional leaders. They need to be educated and be given a grave warning as to the financial ramifications in store for this country if our children don’t receive treatment, and agencies such as the CDC, NIH, IOM, FDA, and AAP continue to refuse to address the autism epidemic with complete transparency.

The time has come. Our children with autism need treatment, help and support. Our families need help and support.

The time has come for strong, swift, and deliberate action on the part of our government to provide every single child with autism the health insurance coverage necessary to recover our children with autism. Yes, they do recover.

The time has come for true leaders to step up to the plate. I challenge you to do just that right now. Step up to the plate.

The time has come. There is no more 1 in 150. There are 1 in 67 children with autism in this country, and the rate of children with autism increases every year.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

The time has come.

Angela Warner – military wife and mom to four (two with ASD). Ang is an advocate for our children with autism at the federal level and volunteer leader for her region at the state level for autism treatment coverage. She is capable of basic math, thanks to her graphing calculator. She is also thankful from the bottom of her heart and soul for all of her fellow advocates for policy change on all levels to benefit all of our children with autism.

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I wanted all medical problems away from me and I wanted to be in the U.S. Military like Army, Navy, Marine Corps and everything in my life depends on it and I wanted my autism to be with me still and I still want to be in the military because they wouldn't let me because of my autism and medical problems and I want somebody to help me please

Military Families and Autism Research:

We are inviting military families with a child with ASD to participate in interviews about their experiences before and after ASD diagnosis. Through these one-on-one interviews we want to learn about the challenges military families face when obtaining diagnosis and intervention for their child with ASD.

Contact via email if interested.
Jennifer Davis, MS, CF-SLP
Doctoral Candidate
E-Mail: jod5183@psu.edu

*This Project has been reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects at The Pennsylvania State University.

What is the cause of this autism in military children? Is there any other mental disorders reported in these groups that have been researched and if so, what? Military children seem to have many physiological problems from what I have observed. Has anyone ever studied the behavioral problems, depression, anxiety and and suicides that occur with these children? If not, I think it should be looked into. We have a responsibility to protect our military as well as the families, especially the children.

you guys are all weird and miss lead
autism can not i repeat can not be cured
people do not recover from autism
.. i know i am autistic.. i don't care what any autistic person says about if they have recovered or don't have it any more. they do have it.. read about autism it works in different ways for different people . it may go away for a bit or may decline but you will always have it..you are all gravely mistaken if you think there is a treatment or a cure because there isn't
all there is for autistic s is help and that's what we need. we need help, we need support, we need schools and any other help. stop trying to find a cure or a way for people to recover from it you can cause its not a disease its a disability.
all you are doing buy believe there is a cure and trying to make one and believe we can recover is make it worse.
yes some autistic are higher functioning and you cant really tell they are autistic but its still there it will always be there ..no matter what level it is it will always be there . they will always be autistic. you may make it go away for a couple of months but its not cured its just hiding or you don't see it cause it doesn't effect them that much any more or in that area of life but it will come back . that's the bottom line..
all we need is support, help and understanding

LOL! I thought this was info about positions held by autistic person in the military! My 17 yr old autistic son is ready to enlist :)

I am a member of the National Guard. I am planning to go active duty. Can anyone write to my email about any autistic schools at any Military post. My email is , vnuel@yahoo.com or victor.cruzbarreto@us.army.mil.My child would like to know, thaks.

I am the mother of an Autistic child with an active duty military parent. I am currently working on my Master's thesis which addresses the social prognosis of dependent children with socially related disabilities such as Autism. I am having a difficult time finding information like this that could help to stress the importance of my topic. Can anyone point me in the right direction for information specific to are military children?
Thank you in advance.

Alexis (lexilore78@yahoo.com)

1:67 overall means 1:42 boys (so many people do this math wrong so here it is: 5 x 67 = 335 [4 boys and 1 girl] ; 335/2 = 168 [half are boys] ; 168/4 = 42 [4 out of the original 5 were boys). So where are all these adult autistics??? So much for better diagnosis.

Send a link to this article to everyone you might possibly be casting a vote for in November. Tell them they had better commit to do something about this now or they're going to lose your vote.

Don't forget: Dan Hollenbeck did a piece on this exact issue (in the AoA archives) regarding the fact that the CDC is sitting on more time relevant studies.

I can't remember all the specifics but I do know it was pretty powerful.

That's exactly right Anne! I read Dr. Yazbak and Ray Gallup's report when it came out, and ever since then I have always referred to that. I've also explained to everyone how and why it does miss many of our children, but that the Dept. of Ed stats are much more reliable than how the CDC gathered their entirely outdated data.

Even if one doesn't like the way I estimated the retired population, you still can't dispute the 1 in 88. I will continue to look into this.

The CDC does stand to lose everything - you're right. They can't afford to tell the truth. Which is why we have to keep up the good fight! It seems as if the CDC and all the rest, have forgotten about the powerful instinct parents have to protect their young from harm. We will NEVER give up in our quest for the truth which further enables us to protect our young and our future.

If the rate is 1 in 67 and boys are 4 times more at risk than girls then these numbers become even scarier for male offspring!!!


Why should anyone accept the rate of one in 150? This rate was announced with a lot of fanfare in February 2007. It's been accepted as the last word in autism statistics and I wish someone would tell me why. It's constantly noted in the news as "recent," but as Ginger Taylor reported on her blog, Adventures in Autism, http://adventuresinautism.blogspot.com/2007/02/cdc-autism-incidence-now-1-in-150.html, back in 2007, the one in 150 rate was out of date before it was even announced.

Ginger wrote, "As part of this study, six ADDM sites evaluated the prevalence of ASDs for children who were eight years old in 2000 (born in 1992): Arizona, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, South Carolina and West Virginia.

"An additional eight sites determined ASD prevalence for children who were eight in 2002 (born in 1994): Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wisconsin."

We're talking about kids studied as eight year olds back in 2000 and 2002. They're teenagers now. What about the thousands of kids being diagnosed today?

What about the kids born in 1996, 1997, or 1998? What's taking so long? Why is this presented to the public as if it's current information?
With the vaccine/autism issue the most heated controversy in medicine today, why should we trust the agency that has everything to hide to give us the correct rate?

Anne Dachel
Media editor

I honestly think it's closer to 1 in 20. There are mild but undiagnosed children in every class.

Explosive is the word that comes to mind after reading this post.

1 in 67 (and that is probably conservative) is truly terrifying and SHOULD cause certain people/organizations to sit up and take notice. All we can do is hope it does.

We need the vast majority of the population to rise up and voice their fears and anger over this situation. We need to let those responsible know we are not going to let this crime against our children continue.

Ang, you rock! Great job, as usual! :-)

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