Covering those who serve and live in our city

Program Helps Military Kids with Autism

Having children with autism, on top of frequent moves and deployments, can put a huge strain on military families

View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    One out of 68 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with autism. But for years, the odds have been even higher in military families. NBC 7 military reporter Bridget Naso introduces us to a family who has two autistic boys and the organization stepping in to help. (Published Wednesday, Apr 16, 2014)

    For San Diego mom Lindsay Sinai, every day is a joy and a challenge with two boys with autism.

    Adding to that, dad Jason is in the military.

    ACT Today for Military Families

    [DGO] ACT Today for Military Families
    ACT executive director Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson visits NBC 7 News Midday to discuss an event planned for Saturday, April, 19. (Published Monday, Apr 14, 2014)

    “He was on a 10 month deployment in 2011, and it was hard,” Sinai said.

    Little things, like a custom “daddy doll” of Jason in uniform help 7-year-old Ethan and 4-year-old Cooper cope.

    “They slept with their daddy doll every night when he is gone, and they're asking me, ‘where's dad?’” Lindsay said.

    But with those long deployments, moving frequently, changing schools and service providers for the boys, Lindsay says, “It's a lot of pressure on me.”

    This family is not alone. One of every 68 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with autism, and the rate is even higher among military kids.

    The Sinais say they feel grateful that “Act Today for Military Families” is there to help with the bigger things

    “We've recently moved again, and knowing that ACT is there is a nice comfort,” Lindsay said.

    This mom has asked the non-profit for a grant to buy supplements that she says provide tremendous results.

    For Ethan, he moved from severe to moderate class in his autism diagnosis. For Cooper, he’s seen an increase in language skills and a decrease in tantrums.

    For every military family, the need is different. Some ask for iPads, which give children with autism something to focus on and be creative. Another need is Applied Behavior Analysis or items for safety, like large fences or GPS devices for children who may run off.

    “Whatever we can do to help with their symptoms of autism, it makes our lives a little bit easier and it makes him feel better when he's on the ship,” Lindsay said.

    ACT is holding its annual One Hope 5K/10K/Run/Walk and Family Festival Saturday, April 19 at Tecolote Shores Park in Mission Bay. NBC 7 is a sponsor of the event.

    Follow NBC 7 for the latest news, weather, and events: iPad App | iPhone App | Android App | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Instagram | RSS | Text Alerts | Email Alerts