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The information for this blog post was gathered from ‘The Experience of Military Families with Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders During Relocation and Separation’ written by Jennifer M. David and Erinn H. Finke.
Many families throughout the United States have experienced moving their family to a new home and all of the changes and stresses that accompany them throughout that move. Military families relocate almost three times as often as non-military families. With each relocation military families face unique stressors, especially the military families who have a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The relocation process often results in stress and uncertainty for the military family members, including the children.

Barriers During Relocation Process

Military families that have a child with ASD often face barriers during the relocation process:

  • Delayed Therapeutic Services
    • They are often placed on waiting lists.
    • Delays in obtaining services are reported to be 1 to 3 months in length, although sometimes that wait time may be longer.
  • Limited Providers
    • Military families may have to travel long distances to a provider.
    • Sometimes there are limited choices in providers, especially when a military family has been relocated overseas.
  • Lack of Therapeutic Service Continuity
    • Relocation can disrupt the continuity for children with ASD, whether it is due to the family relocating or sometimes the provider relocates.
  • Starting Over
    • When relocated, military families don’t know where to go and essentially have to “start over.”
    • It is often confusing and overwhelming trying to get insurance situated and figuring out which providers are accepting new patients.
    • This process is time consuming. Military families must go through all of the phases of establishing therapeutic services each time they relocate.
  • Lack of External Support
    • Typically, there isn’t family in the new location to help and offer support, leaving military families without external support.

Although there are many stressors and barriers when relocating for military families with children with Autism, it is not always a negative move. There are instances where the military family is relocated to an area that has a bigger selection of providers and services available to them.


Davis, J. M., & Finke, E. H. (2015). The Experience of Military Families with Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders During Relocation and Separation. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders,45(7), 2019-2034. doi:10.1007/s10803-015-2364-2

 This MFLN-Military Caregiving concentration blog post was published on January 20, 2017.