The Experience of Military Families with Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders During Relocation and Separation
- Davis JM, Finke EH
- J Autism Dev Disord
Caring for a child with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the context of a military lifestyle is a task that more than 20,000 United States military spouses face today. Despite this prevalence, there is limited research that considers the complex set of challenges that these caregivers endure, and the process by which they strive to adapt to such challenges. The goal of this study was to identify aspects of everyday life that serve to facilitate and/or inhibit the resilience process for military caregivers of children with ASD. A series of semi-structured interviews were conducted with 18 spouses of active duty military personnel who have a child with ASD, ages 4 to 12 years old. These personnel comprised four branches of the United States Uniformed Services, including: Army (n=13), Marine (n=2), Navy (n=2), and Air Force (n=1). Families were stationed at instillations across the country, representing bases in 9 states and in the District of Columbia. An iterative process of thematic analysis was conducted, which yielded six theme categories including aspects of risk (barriers/stressors), as well as protective factors (supports/resources, and strategies). Findings from this study may inform programs and policies that aim to support caregiver resilience and subsequent family wellbeing.