Autism For Parents

8 May 06

Autism and military service

Filed under: Autism,Planning — Brett @ 2126

Special thanks to Wade Rankin at Injecting Sense for the original pointer the Oregonian article.

If your autistic child is in an inclusion setting in high school, attending as a “regular” student, you will eventually encounter military recruiters. As part of No Child Left Behind, public schools are obligated to provide student information to the local recruiters. A recent story in the Oregonian (excerpted below) shows the problems that can occur.

To help prevent this kind of problem, you can take the following steps:

  • Have appropriate documents of diagnosis, treatment, IEPs, etc. for your child
  • If possible, obtain a letter from the school district case manager, pediatrician and others
  • Be proactive, and find out who the local recruiters are, for all services
  • Be even more proactive, find out the chain of command for your local recruiters, all the way up to the first field grade officer (usually a Lieutenant Colonel, Battalion Commander)
  • Send a letter to the local recruiter, with a courtesy copy to the chain of command, stating your child’s situation and that you would appreciate having your child excluded from their recruiting activities
  • If needed, send the documentation you’ve gathered to the local recruiters.

Of course, you may want to ask your son or daughter what they would like to do before acting on the latter two options. They may want to, and be able to, serve in the military and it would be wrong to try to stop them (beyond the efforts many parents already make to keep their “typical” kids out of the military). On a related note, registration for Selective Service is still mandatory for all men on their 18th birthday. As far as I know, there are no exceptions.

= = == EXCERPT === ===== ========

“When Jared first started talking about joining the Army, I thought, ‘Well, that isn’t going to happen,’ ” said Paul Guinther, Jared’s father. “I told my wife not to worry about it. They’re not going to take anybody in the service who’s autistic.”

But they did. Last month, Jared came home with papers showing that he not only had enlisted, but also had signed up for the Army’s most dangerous job: cavalry scout. He is scheduled to leave for basic training Aug. 16.

Officials are now investigating whether recruiters at the U.S. Army Recruiting Station in Southeast Portland improperly concealed Jared’s disability, which should have made him ineligible for service.

Jared didn’t speak until he was almost 4 and could not tolerate the feel of grass on his feet.

Doctors diagnosed him with moderate to severe autism, a developmental disorder that strikes when children are toddlers. It causes problems with social interaction, language and intelligence. No one knows its cause or cure.

School and medical records show that Jared, whose recent verbal IQ tested very low, spent years in special education classes. It was only when he was a high school senior that Brenda pushed for Jared to take regular classes because she wanted him to get a normal rather than a modified diploma.

= = == === ===== ========

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  1. Army psychiatrists are to blame too. They should have spotted it.

    Comment by Richard Swayne — 18 Feb 07 @ 1706 | Reply

  2. I’ve met quite a few Army recruiters, and let’s just say they aren’t quite the freshest fruit in the basket. Some are.. well.. downright rotten.
    They probably left out any mention of his disability just to get another body on the frontlines, and it works (much to the detriment of civilians).

    Comment by Sig — 8 Sep 07 @ 0051 | Reply

  3. typical army….

    Comment by Someone — 22 Mar 08 @ 0558 | Reply

    • Typical ignorant anti military internet troll…

      Comment by Sergeant Bob — 22 Jan 12 @ 1407 | Reply

  4. High functioning autism is not disqualifying, but someone with moderate to severe autism, provided that the said person can perform duties in a typical setting (public high school) and they do well enough in school to earn a diploma (or GED in some cases.) can be eligible for service.

    I suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome, and have served in the service for almost eight years. Aside from my struggles, which remain personal, my professional life has not been altered because of my disability. If Jared is able to perform his duties without his diagnosed autism affecting his duties (and they’ll find out if they will or not in boot camp.) then he’ll be retained. If he cannot perform his duties because of his condition, he’ll be released, no questions asked.

    But yes, not all recruiters are all truthful and will try as much as they can to get whoever into the service. However, that does not mean that despite what a parent thinks about it, they should allow their children, regardless of their status, to think for themselves when making this decision. Allow them to be educated on the subject, but don’t make their decisions for them. They’ll resent you for it for the rest of their life.

    Comment by Serviceman — 1 Mar 09 @ 0410 | Reply

    • Serviceman…
      How in the world did you get into the Army? When I was younger I was diagnosed by a psychiatrist with ADHD and Aspergers, when I was a senior in high school he realized his mistake and took me off medication, at which point I excelled in school, my job and socially.

      Now I’m attempting for the second time to enlist in the Army and MEPS disqualified me AGAIN even though my original doctor wrote a letter stating he misdiagnosed me and that I don’t and never did have any diagnosis.

      I’m currently in the waiver process, any help would be appreciate.

      Comment by Hunter — 21 Mar 12 @ 1954 | Reply

      • Serviceman:

        Actually never mind, I got my medical waiver on Thursday. I’m signing my contract on Tuesday. So it looks like despite my previous diagnosis of Aspergers, I’m getting to join the Army.

        Comment by Hunter — 1 Apr 12 @ 2142

    • Thank you for your service!

      Comment by William — 26 May 16 @ 1938 | Reply

    • Well that isn’t my experience with military recruiters. I have an IQ of 110+ as well as a high school diploma, and they won’t even look at me because I have Autism. I mean, I’m smarter than half of all the people in the army and they won’t touch me because, and I quote, “Autism is an automatic disqualifier.” It’s so bad, I am actually considering filing a lawsuit against the military for violating my rights as an American citizen. That is actually how I found this website. To me, the fact that they would deliberately cover up the fact that a person has Autism, when every recruiter I have talked to has refused to see me again, even though my Autism isn’t immediately detectable is hard for me to understand. I mean, I can be face to face, having a conversation with a recruiter, and they wouldn’t know that I have Autism. It is in unconstitutional to reside to accept someone just because of the way they we born. I didn’t ask to be born with Autism. So why am I shunned because of it? I am sueing the military because they treated me like a second class citizen. And the fact is, people have treated me like that my entire life. And I am sick of it. The military with face justice for the way they treated me. One way or another. I will personally see to it.

      Comment by Bradley — 8 Jan 17 @ 1127 | Reply

      • There is no right to join the military. Therefore, your suit would be dismissed for lack of standing. Believe me, I’ve tried to get around it. I even got the aid of a Congressman on the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Personnel, as well as a retired General, and they still wouldn’t listen. I agree it’s ridiculous, but so is your notion that the military shouldn’t be allowed to discriminate on the basis of disabilities or other medical conditions: the military has a mission, and it needs people who are fit to carry out that mission. They couldn’t very well send someone bound to a wheelchair into combat, after all.

        Comment by myth buster — 8 Jan 17 @ 1414

  5. Autism is a Noooooooooo when talking military. The inability to communicate effectively, intelligence (not just book smart), physical weakness, and a short attention span is why someone with autism cannot serve. Asperger syndrome may be a yes and of course this depends on the individual, not the diagnosis as the chief consideration. Some pretty smart people have autism, but they lack some serious other skills necessary for self-care and self-sufficiency which is why many of them cannot live on their own. The military is not designed to accommodate special needs, and are probably unequipped to handle some of the issues a person with autism will be having. In a war situation, you must be able to make clear and rational split-second decisions and autism strips the ability to respond speedily and with intelligence. If the enemy tosses a grenade in their direction and their focus is on retrieving a document on a desk, they can be blown up. Commander says something, they hear him wrong, and they wind up shot.

    Comment by Jerel Edmonds — 16 Jun 09 @ 0254 | Reply

    • thats a very narrow minded view point since i have autisum and i don’t have problums understanding people or taking orders. i live on my own full tine and can take care of my self and make my own decisions. i have an active life style and go to the gym a ton and bet i can easly lift more than 80% of the people my age. its narrow mindedness from people like you that upsets me the most, and if it werent for people like you saying autisum is a disability instead of a capability that we get sterio typed. we look at things diffrent than the average person but THAT CAN BE A GOOD THING! in my high school we watched a documentry on temple grandin i think it would benifit you to read about her amazing success and she has autisum!

      Comment by daniel wager — 16 Jul 11 @ 1650 | Reply

      • But if a draft becomes mandatory, and one is conscripted, one CAN use either Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism as legitimate way out of service, and one would have the legal right NOT to serve if one wishes to pull out this card.

        Comment by Neil — 5 Jan 12 @ 0619


        Comment by chris — 25 Jan 12 @ 1423

      • Every individual is different and I completely agree with Daniel–Jerel’s comment was very narrow minded. I know an 18 year old who has Asperger’s and he does not have problems understanding people either. He does very well in day to day life. His biggest issue is the fact that he doesn’t always feel as if he “fits in”. However, he deals with this very well. He plans to make a long term career out of the military and there is no doubt that he will be very successful. He currently attends a local JROTC School and is doing great. He is very active in sports (football&wrestling) and works out on a regular basis. I often say that if more people in the world had some of his AS tendencies then we would live in a better place. We do not look at the AS as a disablity but more of a capability as Mr. Wager so beautifully put it.

        Comment by Angela — 20 Mar 12 @ 1544

      • Um, I don’t mean to be a rain on your parade, but you spelled several things wrong here. I, too, have autism, but it does not affect me like it does most people who have it. I can think for myself and am considered brilliant and can multitask better than about 20% of my peers. I taught myself how to play Piano with just some help from Synthesia, a program that shows you exactly what keys to play on the Piano. People who have had lessons for months are baffled at how I could skip so many steps yet can play like a professional.

        I may be different, but in my case, it is a gift. I was given the gift of knowledge and the ability to adapt quicker than other people. Depending on exactly what the specific situation or activity is. If something is interesting to me, like for example, Science or Video Games, I can easily maintain my focus on that one thing for hours on end. Physically, I’m a very tiny young female, only weighing about 122 lbs. and I am 60 inches tall.

        Although I take medication that helps the chemicals in my brain reach an equilibrium, It really won’t affect the results of my training in boot camp if I am enlisted. I don’t understand why Recruiters can’t look past the few flaws that us ASD victims have and can at least work with those that are mentally and physically stable enough to go through training.

        Comment by ali — 18 Aug 13 @ 2045

      • I have a nephew with high-functioning autism who is at the tail end of his Basic Combat Training. He is doing very well with everything. Having had a son go through all the training, I know how physically and mentally demanding it is. To say that a person with autism couldn’t serve in the military is narrow-minded and demeaning. I’d rather have a person with autism serve in the military than a narrow-minded person who doesn’t know all the facts about autism.

        Comment by Brenda Wohlford — 9 Feb 16 @ 0939

      • We almost lost the Iraq war with in the box thinking. It was outside the box thinking that defeated the Iraqi insurgency. My class at military academy had outside the box as our motto. We need original thinkers. Ever think about enlisting.

        Comment by Sgt David DeVault 1st Minnesota Infantry Retired — 25 Feb 16 @ 0134

    • Hello All, Iknow this thread is old so not sure if anyone will read it but I feel I need to weigh in. I am a Canadian military member who works in Army Signals. The official policy of the Canadian Armed Forces in regards to the recruitment and retention of personnel with aspergers/autism is that individuals will be retained if they are able to pass the aptitude test (which would present no problems for anyone able to complete high school) and successfully complete Basic Training and subsequent trades training. The work that I do is very mathematical and IT oriented; as such, we have a number of members ( I would guess roughly 5%) who would fall somewhere within the autism spectrum. I have worked side-by-side with three of these members, one of which I was deployed to Afghanistan with. Here are my conclusions: I am in agreement with Jarel 100%. When working domestically in an office situation my colleagues with Aspergers were able to function relatively well with extensive training in a junior position. None have been able to successfully transition into a supervisory role which is highly problematic within the military. When posted to a field regiment and all of the lack of structure incumbent in field exercises and deployment training things go awry immediately, which is unfair to both the member with Aspergers/Autism and their colleagues. The personnel I worked with have been unable to make cogent decisions on the fly and require maximum supervision regardless of time in which is not always feasible. The member I was deployed with was returned to Canada within two weeks as it became evident immediately he was unable to cope with the inherent stresses of a land deployment; thereby, rendering him to be a massive safety concern. The Canadian Forces retention policy, regardless of personal situation is that one should be released if they are not deployable for whatever reason. This means that if I incur and injury, ie severe back problem, or an illness, ie diabetes I will be medically released after it has been established that I will not recover. After all is said and done, when one joins the military they are signing up for a potential life threatening vocation, where ones ability to respond logically, quickly in chaotic circumstances can definitely threaten the lives of yourself and your colleagues. I don’t deny for a moment that persons with autism cannot enjoy full personal and professional lives in anyway, but the military is inherently the wrong environment for someone who falls within the autism spectrum.

      Comment by Amilia — 19 Sep 13 @ 1129 | Reply

    • My son has AS and obviously your statements above are totally uneducated. My son spent two years in the Civil Air Patrol and moved up in rank faster than anyone else. His physical strength exceeded the others his age and he can communicate quite effectively. Matter of fact, he would probably call you a f-ing idiot for your statements, perhaps a lack of etiquette but due to your comments it would be quite an effective mode of communicating his thoughts regarding your comments. On top of that he has an innate ability to focus more than most of the population.He doesn’t have special needs and was in gifted programs in high school. Furthermore, he is passionate about the armed forces and would have more drive to become special ops when most people would give up. As far as intelligence, every area concerning the important aspects of his IQ test are in the gifted or near gifted range. Probably the military is not the right fit for many with this diagnosis, but it is the perfect fit for some. I came here to research this hoping to find the “truth” and not a bunch of uneducated assumptions from people like you.

      Comment by Chris — 25 Mar 14 @ 1757 | Reply

    • You are a f***ing dumb narrow minded w**ker . I am autistic and i can do those things you said autistics were bad at better than most so called normal people and so can most autistics. If everyone in the world was autistic it would be a lot better and a lot happier world.

      Comment by James — 12 Sep 14 @ 1726 | Reply

    • I beg to differ. My daughter is a high functioning aspie. She is in ROTC, Swim Team, Band Color Guard, holds a student internship at a local marine laboratory, and is in regular high school classes with A’s & B’s. She does take a very low dose of medication to assist her with some of her quirks but she’s working with her doctor to be 100% medication free by her senior year. She is aspiring to enter into the Coast Guard Academy upon graduation. She’s strong, fit, beautiful, highly intelligent, and hard working for her goals. Just curious why you think people on the spectrum have physical weaknesses, can not communicate, etc…I think it is all about their environment and the support they have had. We have worked so hard with her since she was diagnosed at age 3, most people have no clue she has or has ever had a diagnosis at all. You should not make such blanket comments.

      Comment by A.J. McMonagle — 25 Aug 16 @ 1018 | Reply

  6. Jerel,

    Just so you are aware, physical weakness is not a problem in people with Autism! In fact, it is usually opposite. A lot of people with autism have unnatural strength and endurance and do not recognize pain. My own son could make it through boot camp physically. You are spot on about the split second decision making. That is a huge issue and a concern for their safety and the other around them. Unfortunately, recruiting of young men with Autism is happening. It is not that these young men are lying to recruiters, they honestly my not understand that Autism is a condition that should prevent them from joining the service or that they have it. Recruiters are NOT educated enough to identify the signs of Autism. I don’t believe they recruit them to make a quota or maybe I just don’t want to believe it. They are just not educated or experienced in seeing the signs. But, STRENGTH is NOT an issue.

    Comment by Jennifer — 17 Jul 09 @ 0048 | Reply

    • Everything you said in this post is spot on my son. Physically he is stronger than anyone I know,, he works out a the gym for 2-3 hours a day (or did before leaving for basic) and he has a pain threshold that is unreal,, it’s like he doesn’t feel pain! And because he goes to college he has recruiters after him day in and day out. My son sees things in black and white,, no grey area, he is very trusting,, and I felt like that worked against him with the recruiters. Not that they intentionally did anything wrong,,, but he took everything they said at face value without question. It’s a wonderful quality sometimes,, but in this situation I feel he didn’t totally understand what he was getting into especially with infantry. I know without a doubt physically he can do this,, emotionally is another story,, stress is a struggle for him

      Comment by Marci — 14 Aug 16 @ 2014 | Reply

  7. I have mild autism (Asperger’s Syndrome), and I feel that it is unacceptable, and inexcusable for the military to recruit anyone with a mental disability, irregardless of the severity of that disability. I am outraged that the Army would do such a thing. I feel that the military or government should make it a court-martial offense for any recruiter who knowingly allows disabled people (this includs autism of any type or severity) to enlist in the military. Furthermore disabled people should be exempt from registering with the Selective Service System, and be exempt from being conscripted into military service, should the draft be reinstated. Many people with autism, like myself do not drive, and are unable to perform tasks that are performed in military service, and have difficulty paying attention. What the Army did to allow an autistic man to be in the armed forces is totally unacceptable, and there should be a criminal investigation if this ever happens again.

    Comment by Someone — 20 Sep 09 @ 2055 | Reply

    • mild autism isn’t aspergers . . . high functioning autism is still right below aspergers. aspergers is the “high functioning” of autism. i was at first accepted into service, then discharged when the symptoms of my autism where discovered.

      Comment by Kai — 30 May 11 @ 1845 | Reply

      • If you don’t mind my asking, what were those symptoms that were noticed?

        Comment by Valenz — 21 Apr 12 @ 1921

      • This is the kind of stuff that the Military needs to work on. Those that can endure the training and show that they can function like anyone else should be allowed to continue on with their career in the Military.

        Comment by ali — 18 Aug 13 @ 2050

    • I’m sorry to rain on your comment but that’s not your choice to say weather or not someone with AS can join the military ,I believe a person with AS who can think for themselves should have the opportunity to enlist . But if that individual is unable to perform in that kind of environment they should be tested and proven unfit for the Branch etc They wish to be apart of. But is my most honest belief People with AS are gifts to society as a matter a fact there are a few well not individuals in history who were diagnosed With AS. A few Examples are Albert Ens-tine ,he contributed to the world in great ways, Another great person who happen to have AS and was One of the founding fathers of this great country and his name happens to be George Washington THE FIRST PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES WOW THAT IS A BIG DEAL IF HE COULD RUN THE COUNTRY THEN I BELIEVE AN INDIVIDUAL WITH AS HAS HUGE CHANCE OF JOINING THE MILITARY!!!

      Comment by Erin Batchelor — 12 Nov 13 @ 2342 | Reply

  8. FYI-General Stonewall Jackson was an Aspie. He was classic Asperger’s Syndrome!! Yes they can join the military. Most are extremely successful.

    Comment by Robin Davis — 2 Oct 09 @ 2057 | Reply

  9. Unfortunately, Autism of any kind is a disqualification from military service. It shouldn’t be. If it’s serious enough that it would prevent the individual from serving effectively, then it’s serious enough that the individual would fail out of boot camp, and certainly lacks the aptitude to be an officer. Autism shouldn’t even be considered a medical issue, as far as the military is concerned. It’s a military aptitude issue, and should be treated as such. Full disclosure: I have very mild Asperger’s Syndrome, and I was kicked out of Naval ROTC even though my Captain, my diagnosing physician, and several active and retired officers supported allowing me to be commissioned, and even serve as an unrestricted line officer. No one recruited me; I sought them out. This policy is blatant discrimination, serving no practical purpose.

    Comment by myth buster — 16 Oct 09 @ 0009 | Reply

    • I beat thousands of other candidates to win my place as a Police trainee in the Police Service of Northern Ireland but was kicked out once they became aware of my Aspergers.This despite the fact that I outperformed most of the Neuro Typicals in my intake.Blatant discrimination-but thats the NT way-pay lip service to “Diversity” but keep the good careers to themselves.

      Comment by John — 29 Apr 10 @ 2057 | Reply

  10. If the person replying as “Someone” happens to come across this message I hope they will contact me. My son has high functioning Autism and although he’s only six years old, everyday I am watching him for his “thing”. That thing that may become an obsession that could lead to a career. The military popped into mind when a gentleman attended our local Autism Society Meeting (the first Dad I’ve ever seen at any meeting in two years.) His son, diagnosed Aspbergers was obsessed with military history. He was determined to get in the Navy Seals. He trains daily for this. His Dad absolutely dismissed his sons dreams. I hear military and think: routine, regimented,strict, there are rules–you obey those rules. Sounds actually kind of perfect for someone on the Spectrum if you ask me. There are TONS and TONS of jobs to choose from, try out. In the military, a person with Autism would find support from the guys in his troop. Yes people with Autism are quirky and difficult to understand but there are good people in the world that will recognize the great qualities Autistic individuals can offer and they will support them. If a parent allows the child’s Autism to be an excuse for sheltering them, then no an Autistic child raised like that would not do well in the military. But you take my son…he knows what no means, he understands who’s in charge (his Mom) and he listens.. he goes to the store even when he doesn’t want to. Tough Love baby! Life isn’t always going to be how you think it will be. It is possible to teach high functioning kids to “roll with the punches” …but that starts by not sheltering them. By not avoiding Walmart because it’s too much sensory input. Yes you spend considerably less time in Walmart at first but you gradually increase. I teach my son everyday…I take different ways places (when he’s def. happy to always go the same way), every Friday after school we get a desert– it started out we’d always go to McD’s for ice cream but then one day it occured to me how bringing him to different places (the bakery, convient stores, even sit down restraunts) is a way to teach him not to always expect the same thing. I could say a lot more..but basically it’s all about how the Autistic child is raised.

    Comment by Mom — 9 Nov 09 @ 0157 | Reply

    • Bravo Mom 0157,
      I agree with you.
      I have raised my son the same way. It has been tough at times but very much worth the effort on my part and his. :0 )
      He is 16 years old, a Senior Champs swimmer for a USA swim team, Life Scout in Boy Scouts ( upcoming Eagle Scout)and does service work at our church.
      He does have his moments,we talk and work through them.
      I do know parents that have sheltered their children with aspbergers, it’s a shame.

      Comment by ProudArmyWife — 20 Feb 10 @ 0401 | Reply

    • I agree. We don’t baby our autistic son. In fact, when we go out, he’s our best-behaved child of our three. (Well, our eldest is ADHD, just diagnosed not yet medicated. That child will not have to register for selective service on the basis that, well, she’s a girl. And our youngest is only a toddler. Also a girl.) He’s pretty easy-going. However, there are times when I purposely avoid things to avoid setting him off. Because *I* don’t want to deal with it. However, the m&m tax (he loves m&ms and always wants a bag when we go to the store) is a small price to pay for us. But, he does not always get them. Especially when we have a 2 lb bag at home. Unopened.

      Comment by Laura — 2 Oct 10 @ 0523 | Reply

      • My son who is now 19 years old, was diagnosed at 12 with AS. He had a very difficult childhood. Back in the early 1990’s nobody knew nothing about AS, ADHD/ADD, ODD, OCD and the whole alphabet soup!!! I knew he was different the day he was born, seriously, within 24 hours I was asking and talking to everyone who would listen, that there was something about him that wasn’t “normal” Everyone thought I was nuts and overbearing protective mother….it took years of fighting, not because I needed a “Label” for my son but I wanted to help him and understand him. The awful meltdowns, biting, fighting, not feeling pain, not wanting to be hugged, freaked out at the slightest change in routine ETC…He eventually got diagnosed, medicated and stabalized. Last year he graduated from high school as validictorian. His only dream in life from the time he was 3 or 4 was to join the army. He wanted nothing else. He knows anything and everything about history, wars, equiptment, he lived and breathed everything military for 15 years. When he realized that because he has the “AS” label, that he would never have a career with the army, he was devastated. He tried to accept it and move on. For a year he has been looking for a job, any job, he as had 4 job interviews and the moment of the interview (usually near the end) when he discloses his label. Each one of those employers came up with dumb ass excuses of why they could not hire him. I even talked to the manager of the largest discount super store, the one with the smiley face, that manager told me outright that he would not hire my son because he didn’t want to deal with someone who has AS!!!!!! I wish I had a tape recorder. Now he doesn’t even what to try to look for a job, because nobody wants someone like him. Tonight we had a huge argument, about what he needed to do. I told him about Dr. Temple Grandin….very inspiring woman. I told him if he wanted to join the army or any branch, to fight for it!! He might not be front line material, or maybe he is because he does not feel certain emotions and might not take that extra moment to decide what to do, he would just do what he was trained to do. What ever he wants, I will be there to support him. He is reading up on what he has to be able to do to qualify for his right to join the military. I kind of have to chuckle, because when he turned 18 and had to sign up for the draft, the card DID NOT say crap about any reason why he could not serve his country. I believe anyone with HFAS should be allowed to try, if it is something he can’t do, then fine, but at least he tried. Which is better than sitting here trying to qualify for disability. GIVE HIM A FAIR CHANCE, I am not asking them to make it easier, just let him do what every other person out there has to do. My thought on this Soap box was to tell parents of kids with AS, don’t over shelter them, look for the best yet least restrictive plan to allow them to be themselves. They can learn the things that don’t come naturally for them, like feeling empathy. Just love them and be there for them. Thanks for listening………He plans on starting to do jogging tomorrow. I know he can do it.

        Comment by Cheryl J — 11 May 11 @ 0039

  11. If the person replying as “Someone” happens to come across this message I hope they will contact me. My son has high functioning Autism and although he’s only six years old, everyday I am watching him for his “thing”. That thing that may become an obsession that could lead to a career. The military popped into mind when a gentleman attended our local Autism Society Meeting (the first Dad I’ve ever seen at any meeting in two years.) His son, diagnosed Aspbergers was obsessed with military history. He was determined to get in the Navy Seals. He trains daily for this. His Dad absolutely dismissed his sons dreams. I hear military and think: routine, regimented,strict, there are rules–you obey those rules. Sounds actually kind of perfect for someone on the Spectrum if you ask me. There are TONS and TONS of jobs to choose from, try out. In the military, a person with Autism would find support from the guys in his troop. Yes people with Autism are quirky and difficult to understand but there are good people in the world that will recognize the great qualities Autistic individuals can offer and they will support them. If a parent allows the child’s Autism to be an excuse for sheltering them, then no an Autistic child raised like that would not do well in the military. But you take my son…he knows what no means, he understands who’s in charge (his Mom) and he listens.. he goes to the store even when he doesn’t want to. Tough Love baby! Life isn’t always going to be how you think it will be. It is possible to teach high functioning kids to “roll with the punches” …but that starts by not sheltering them. By not avoiding Walmart because it’s too much sensory input. Yes you spend considerably less time in Walmart at first but avoiding it all together teaches the child they don’t have to face scary things. I teach my son everyday…I take different ways while driving around (when he’s def. happy to always go the same way), every Friday after school we get a desert– it started out we’d always go to McD’s for ice cream but then one day it occurred to me how bringing him to different places (the bakery, convient stores, even sit down restraunts) is a way to teach him not to always expect the same thing. I could say a lot more..but basically it’s all about how the Autistic child is raised and I can absolutely see someone on the spectrum finding a place in the military.

    Comment by Mom — 9 Nov 09 @ 0200 | Reply

    • My Husband is 46 and has been in the Australian Army sinced 1980 – he has had an adult diagnosis of Aspergers.
      He is high functioning Aspergers and his ” thing ” is WW2 aircraft and models ( makes you wonder why he didn’t join the airforce! ) but his ability to memorise mechanical specifications means he is now a teacher in the Australian Army School of Transport. He knows his stuff!
      They love the routine of the military and they can do well in that environment.
      I don’t think my husband would be where he is, had he stayed a civilian!
      Unfortunately his son is also Aspergers and my husband is not with the boy’s mother and she did take the path of NOT exposing him to anything too hard or confrontational to not ” set him off ” – as a result in comparison my husband is quite functional in the real world but his son is alot ‘ worse’.
      His son also aspires to joining the military and unfortunately his bad speech and poor behaviour may pre-clude this from happening.
      My husband has learnt lots of ” tricks ” over the years to appear ‘ normal ‘ which his son has never had the opportunity to pick up.
      As we have only been married 4 years and we’ve only known about the Aspergers since 2007 – I have been on a steep learning curve!
      I agree sheltering them is a big mistake.
      But the ” label ” of Aspergers can be a burden because there are degrees; from the non functional shut in obsessed with used bobby pins, to the University Professor who excels in his field……….and both can have Aspergers!
      I think if people start making generalisations about Aspergers is where the problems start.
      I just remember thinking my ( then fiancee ) as a little eccentric and I learnt to respect his ” ways “. I didn’t know then it had a name!
      Ironically I think the admission criteria for the Australian Army would exclude my husband from admission today – but he has passed all his psyche evaluations to date – so its a bit of a contradiction.

      Comment by Jenny — 16 Mar 10 @ 0331 | Reply

  12. My son has Autism. He LOVES the military and I googled weather or not he could join the military and found this. He is in ROTC and loves it. It is so regimented. He loves wearing the uniform and keeping things spick and span…He loves having someone tell him what to do… He is only a freshman but I have often wondered if he could join. I was thinking of asking his ROTC teacher. but he has LOW muscle tone, and not much strength..I cringe when I think of him having a gun…I am not sure he realizes dead is dead…or if he would be sad if he did shoot someone…I hate thinking this way….I wish they had a special olympics military, or honory military that preforms communiy service…He really loves it…No one supports the troops like he does.

    Comment by Stacy — 13 Nov 09 @ 1510 | Reply

    • Its not “special olympics” military, but if your son really enjoys the military aspect and would like to volunteer, he could the Civil air patrol. It is the civillian volunteer corps supported by the Airforce.They have a cadet program for 12-21yrs old and a senior member aspect for adults that join after 18yrs. They follow all regulations as set by the airforce and where the same uniform. Registration fees are cheap (like 32 bucks a yr) and they receive one free bdu and class b uniform from the airforce. They perform all kinds of civic duties and rescue operations, even the cadets. My son joined when he turned 12 and has been on 2 rescue missions and helped to find a lost plane. He is close to receiving emt certification and already has emergency radio quals. Mergers should not be allowed to keep your son from doing something he truly enjoys for life.

      Comment by melissa — 28 Aug 11 @ 1758 | Reply

    • Is your son still in the military? Was he commissioned as an officer?

      Comment by Amilia — 20 Sep 13 @ 0047 | Reply

  13. Killing a man isn’t easy for anyone who isn’t a sociopath, no matter how much the target may deserve it. It’s to be expected that he would have a reaction to the prospect of having to shoot someone. Training is great, but no one really knows how they’ll react until they’re actually in a battle. Most get over it, some only look like they do, and some don’t even manage that. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know which category your son will fall into unless and until he actually has to shoot somebody, or order someone else to. One thing I would caution you not to do is tell his superiors that he has autism. If they haven’t figured it out yet, it’s not bad enough to be a problem, but it will be if you open your mouth. Speaking up about this can only cause problems at this point.

    Comment by myth buster — 13 Nov 09 @ 1618 | Reply

  14. Re: Selective Service: The rule is that even men with obviously disqualifying conditions must register, and if their condition precludes them from serving they would be classified as 4-F if they get called up. Would autism be something that would result in such a classification?

    Comment by Kelly — 25 Nov 09 @ 0005 | Reply

  15. If we became so desperate for manpower as to institute a draft, autism would probably not be considered a prima facie exclusion from service, nor should it be. Fact is, a draft violates people’s liberty, and so it should be used only as a last resort, after all our reserves have been activated and any volunteer recruits who can meet the most basic of standards (pass physical fitness requirements, demonstrate sufficient discipline, mentally capable of understanding and carrying out orders, and no disfiguring injuries or birth defects).

    Comment by myth buster — 25 Nov 09 @ 0503 | Reply

  16. To the person commenting as Mom:
    I loved your post and thought I’d respond to tell you good for you and your son!!! You have the right frame of mind and are doing the best for your son. It kills me to see parents babying their kids over what many consider a disability. This is life and this is their life. My son is also high functioning autistic, he’s 10 now, and by doing what you are doing, and getting him the schooling that he needed, he is now in regular elementary school and doing great. No one even knows, including his teacher. He excels in math, science & history, has tons of friends. I still notice some things, but he just comes off as a sweet quirky boy to everyone else. My husband and I even took him to a very nice restaurant the other night, the waitress was quite impressed with his politeness. His dream is to join the military and I think he would be a perfect fit. Anyone who would meet my son and think otherwise, I’d have to laugh.

    Comment by meeee — 15 Dec 09 @ 1810 | Reply

  17. I came here after googling autism and military. I have to say that I’m a little offended at certain people on this board outright denying me the chance to join the military. We may have some processing issues, sure, but we’re not stupid. I know we look stupid, sometimes, especially when we’re trying to make small talk. We don’t find ‘small talk’ logical. But I can assure you. We. Are. Not. Stupid. No one is throwing the wool over our eyes and trying to lead the poor little autistic boy to death and destruction ‘on the front lines’. That’s not how it works and that’s not who we are. I can join with my eyes wide open or wide closed just like the next guy. Autism has nothing to do with it. And hey, if my processing issues crop up in basic training, then I have to believe that I can’t go on past that point. The military doesn’t throw every piece of meat that joins into situations they can’t handle. You’ve been watching too many horror stories if you believe that.

    And FYI… ‘Obsession’ is just the negative form of ‘Passion’. We may have a strong interest in certain subjects. Don’t knock it.

    Comment by Amanda — 15 Jun 10 @ 0258 | Reply

    • It’s not them denying you the chance; it’s the bigots at the Bureau of Medicine.

      Comment by myth buster — 15 Jun 10 @ 1822 | Reply

    • Would you say preclusion from military service due to a bad back, chronic mental health issues or diabetes are discriminatory policies? All of these things render an individual unfit for service. If any person needs daily medication for the duration of their service they are considered unfit as they cannot e deployed. Just food for thought.

      Comment by Amilia — 20 Sep 13 @ 0055 | Reply

  18. A major problem that may prohibit any kind of military service is that many boys with Asperger are overeaters and have major coordination issues, as well as being 5 years behind other boys in maturity.
    “Gomer Pyle” in “Full metal jacket” is a good example of a solider with Asperger Syndrome.
    The overeating is often a symptom of rejecting paternal authority. Many boys with Asperger have fathers that fail to transfer their love for sports, hiking, etc. to their sons, something that leads to problems with authority and makes the son with Asperger reject everything that reminds him of his father, an active life and fitness included. At least 90% of teenage boys with Asperger are severly overweight.

    Comment by Cynic — 8 Aug 10 @ 1636 | Reply

    • If they don’t meet the physical fitness standards, you reject them for not meeting the physical fitness standards; you don’t decide that someone is going to be a problem and therefore refuse to consider them based on a stereotype.

      Comment by myth buster — 9 Aug 10 @ 0115 | Reply

    • You sir, are an idiot. I have Asperger’s and I am NOT overweight. Every Asperger diagnosed person I know are not over weight. Comparing me or any Asperger diagnosed man/woman to Gomer in FMJ is a rather large insult. You know nothing about Aspergers, so by all means, you can stop anytime.

      Comment by Nick — 28 Mar 11 @ 1127 | Reply

  19. As I read this blog I can’t help but to wonder how many soldiers in active duty today actually have some level of Autism. As a Squad Leader in the United States Infantry I have seen hundreds of new privates and leaders come through the ranks in my short 8 yrs of service. Let me tell you, some of them have alot of problems. In fact, after thinking about it, I bet some of the soldiers I have trained and faught with have been special needs. Some of those soldiers have done poorly and some have exceeded the standards of many of the soldiers we might classify as “normal”.
    Autism touches my life on a daily basis. My step-son (10 yrs old) has what first appeared to my untrained eye as mild Autism. After spending the last 5 yrs with him and spending time with other Autistic children I’m more prone to say that he falls somewhere in the average fuctioning range but is non-verbal. When I look at him I desperately want to see him to be the “success story” or “the exception to the rule”. I want him to be able to take care of himself someday, and find a place where he can be happy. He has made alot of great strides in the last few years. He has brought his Mother to tears on numerous events by performing a small task that previously would have been troublesome to him. I can honestly say that I’m very proud to be his Father. With that said, I would never want him to serve in the US Military. I think the concept is great, but for someone such as him, he would burden the unit and his leaders would have a great bit if difficulty with him.
    I do however agree with Amanda, we should not be the people to decide if a person is or is not fit to be a soldier. We already pay people much more qualified than any of us on this blog to make those decisions. A Drill Sergeant will easily be able to tell if a recruit will be able to perform his duty. Let’s leave the generalizations about Autistic kids and and people with Asperger’s to the uniformed. People who don’t realize that this “disease” is too wide spread and non-uniform to disqualify an entire group of people we haven’t met to live their dreams. I enjoyed reading this blog. Thank you to all who participated.

    Comment by SSG Miller — 8 Aug 10 @ 2231 | Reply

    • “We already pay people much more qualified than any of us on this blog to make those decisions. A Drill Sergeant will easily be able to tell if a recruit will be able to perform his duty. Let’s leave the generalizations about Autistic kids and and people with Asperger’s to the uniformed.”

      wow, i respectfully, and very strongly, disagree. there is not a human on the planet who knows more about *my* son than i do. and i certainly would never trust a drill sergeant — or anyone else in the military, for that matter, to make any decision about his abilities…or rather, lack thereof.

      my son is 17yrs old, 6ft tall, 160 pounds, and looks like a carbon copy of Jake Gyllenhaal. he’s also a gym rat, an honor’s student, an amazing lead guitarist in a rock band, has a serious girlfriend, a great circle of friends, has a quick wit and is very outgoing. yet, he is NOT competent to serve in combat — *even though* he’d probably do extremely well in training exercises. however, that is NOT a good test for someone with an autism spectrum disorder. because in a *real* battle zone, in a *real* war, the added stress is LIKELY to cause them to take an extra split second to make a decision — and that could very well put them in great jeopardy of being killed; or worse yet, their entire unit.

      sure, we all want our kids to “be all they can be” and serving our country is certainly an important, noble duty. but even *more* important and noble is our duty as PARENTS — in protecting our children from what we know they *aren’t* capable of. i beg all of you with sons or daughters on the spectrum to seriously think about this. it could be a matter of life and death.

      Comment by SLC — 9 Oct 10 @ 0156 | Reply

      • This is WHY….letting the young ADULT with AS who wishes to join the military, should be allowed to try and to be evaluated just as everyone else…AS is such a huge spectrum and should be treated on a person by person basis. My 19 yo son, would NOT take an extra split second…he would do what he was trained to do and if it was to shoot the other guy first, he would without a doubt. My son is not super atheletic, but he is not over weight either, he has just chosen not to exercise beyond a walk to the store to get something (3 miles). No 2 AS people are exactly alike.

        Comment by Cheryl J — 11 May 11 @ 0048

  20. I am an aspie. I served as an operator for almost 10 years. I was fine until a heavy concussion forced me out. I was not retired because I was an aspie. I was retired because the concussion blast and the subsequent head trauma exacerbated my condition to the point where I could not do my job properly anymore. It was the P.T.S.D. that actually got me but it made the aspergers worse.
    The rules are actually this on mental issues in the military. If the subject has a condition for which he/she has not had to seek or received any treatment or medication for at least one year, then he/she “can” be enlisted/reenlisted in the military. Again this also depends on what the disability is. clearly a psychotic person off his meds for a year stands no chance.
    However I was also raised in a military school and therefore from a young age was taught differently than most. I was used to relying on the brothers around me to help me and I was used to the discipline and actually it made it easier for me later in life.
    I know it may sound stupid to send your aspie kid away at 9 years old to a military school 300 miles away from you but, thats what my parents did.
    Not because I was an aspie (my father does not believe in aspergers) but because of my high intellect and inability to understand the kids around me and why simple things to me were complex to them and vice versa.
    It all depends on the person and what level of functioning they have.
    I was always very good at sports especially wrestling where I was a state champion.
    My point is that EVERYONE is different and what works for me may not work for anyone else.
    We are NOT all the same and to say that we can’t do this or that is just plain B.S. We can in most instances do better than most at specialized jobs in the military.
    However I will admit that normal infantry can be a pain because of the sheer number of people around you who also have their own “baggage” to deal with.
    Now that said if the person cannot make a rapid decision under fire OR be taught to do so, then NO MATTER WHAT HE/SHE HAS OR DOES NOT HAVE WILL GET OR MEN/WOMEN KILLED.

    @ The genius who made the grenade/coffee analogy. That made no sense. You have no clue what you are even talking about. You posed a scenario whereby the person was faced with certain death and you think he would be looking at coffee?


    COFFEE? GRENADE!!!!!!!!!!! COFFEE? YOU SIR ARE AN IDIOT. Sorry but I say what I feel blame it on the aspergers if you like but I earned that right and I am fully aware of what I just said to you and why I said it.

    By the way “serviceman” if the enemy were close enough for a grenade we would not be dealing with paperwork we would be killing him and then looking for the fool who let him into the “imaginary office” you just invented.

    Nice try bro but you clearly have no clue. Sorry to rant on this but considering that my paygrade was most likely higher than yours I earned that right.





    Comment by ASPIE01 — 15 Oct 10 @ 1800 | Reply

  21. I have a High-functioning Mildly Autistic Son. He is about to turn 17 years old. He has been an inspiration to me since he was born. Doctors told me that he may not be a productive member of society. I would not believe them. I have fought for my son all his life to get a good education and to be able to do things for himself. Since he was 5 years old he had a fascination with Ships (especially Titanic and any that sank). He has been talking about going into the Navy with his dad. I am a little leary. I know he would be great at the following instructions and very disciplined, but it is those split second decisions and anything not concrete issues that concerns me. Any advice? I do not want to hold him back but I want someone’s opinion about it. Thanks!

    Comment by Andrea Moore — 24 Mar 11 @ 1137 | Reply

  22. I just finished reading this article, as well as many of the comments below it. First off, I’d like to say that I have Asperger’s Syndrome. I have an extremely strong desire to join the Marine Corps. I have began exercising and training, and still have a year left of school before I plan on signing up. I believe that I have every right to join the military, as I can support myself and make split second decisions. I am more than willing to jump on a grenade to save my team’s lives. I am more than willing to carry a fellow Marine out of a danger zone, exposing myself as needed to protect his life. I can run, I can jump, I can speak fluently and without hesitation, I can swim, I can shoot a gun. I’m pretty sure I can save a life. I make split second decisions every day. Not deadly ones, but still. I believe if I am willing to shoot someone to defend my country, or jump on a grenade to save some lives, I am MORE than able to join the Military. The way I see it, if I can’t join the military due to some doctor’s decision made 14 or 15 years ago, with plenty of time full of change and incredible new qualities, then I will somehow take this to court. Simple as that. Yeah, that means that I’ll be fighting the whole United States Military. An autistic man can become a Fire Fighter or a Police Officer, both of which are dangerous jobs and require split second decisions and clear thought. There is no excuse as to why a high functioning autistic man can’t join the military.

    Comment by Nick — 28 Mar 11 @ 1119 | Reply

    • Thank you for the words of encouragement. I think it should be up to the individual whether they want to serve or not. If they are high-functioning and have made through life this far, then they should be allowed to join the military! I am a very supportive mom who has been there and fought for my son every step of the way and if I have to fight some more, I will!

      Comment by Andrea Moore — 29 Mar 11 @ 0908 | Reply

  23. “YOU SIR ARE AN IDIOT. Sorry but I say what I feel blame it on the aspergers if you like but I earned that right and I am fully aware of what I just said to you and why I said it.” <— Uggh. Sickening to think that someone can "earn" a "RIGHT" to HURT someone for lacking intelligence. Disgusting, just disgusting. And remember, just because you have A right doesn't mean every use of it IS right. THEY ARE NOT MORALLY CULPABLE FOR THEIR LACK OF INTELLIGENCE, IT IS A MATTER OF GENETIC *LUCK* OF THE DRAW AND THEY CAN'T HELP IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by mike4ty4 — 7 Oct 11 @ 1636 | Reply

  24. As an Aspie myself (diagnosed in the early-to-mid 2000s at the age of thirty-six) I wished that I had joined the Canadian Armed Forces (army or navy) when I was younger-I might be better off now than I am currently. At this point I can’t join because I have diabetes, and am 43 years old.To be brutally frank with those here who support the military, I’d rather join this organization instead of the regular military.

    Comment by Neville Ross — 26 Nov 11 @ 2150 | Reply

  25. I have a question relating to this that I hope someone can answer!
    My husband is Navy, and was recently diagnosed with moderately bad Asperger’s and some OCD by a civilian psychiatrist. He has been having problems relating to his Asperger’s ever since he joined 7 years ago, and he is absolutely miserable. On his ship, he is not allowed to speak unless it is about computers (his “thing”) and he has no friends and never formed bonds with anyone. His lack of ability to understand others’ emotions is severely detrimental to his ability to do his job and interact with other sailors during the long months at sea. He has been trying to find out if he can possibly be allowed to leave the service as a result of his Asperger’s. He currently has about 2.5 years left on his contract, with at least 15 months of that being deployed. His chief on his ship actually told him that he should try to get out now before the ship does a series of extended deployments.

    Anyone have any advice or ideas about this situation?

    Comment by Lizz — 7 Feb 12 @ 1953 | Reply

    • Asperger’s Syndrome is an unwaiverable disqualification from entering the military, but the retention standards are always less stringent than the accession standards (for instance, amputees are often permitted to stay in if they can get back in shape quickly enough, but no amputee nor someone born without all four limbs can join any branch of the military). However, since he is trying to get out, he probably will be able to without issue, with the caveat that he will have to repay a pro-rated portion of any retention bonus he received when he last re-upped, less credit for banked leave. Since he was just diagnosed, he cannot be charged with defrauding the government, but he will have to repay any bonus that he received based on the incomplete service time, since this was not an illness or injury incurred in the line of duty, but rather a latent condition that was discovered to render him unfit for continuing in the service. Ask about getting him placed on terminal leave, allowing him to use his banked leave toward shortening his incomplete obligation while still collecting BAS and BAH (assuming, of course, that he has some leave banked).

      Comment by myth buster — 8 Feb 12 @ 2111 | Reply

  26. If a military draft is ever reinstated, I think it would be wrong to make people with any form of autism and aspergers to have to join as well and it should be a disqualification.

    Comment by Alex — 31 Mar 12 @ 0126 | Reply

  27. I think that if HE wants to join the forces he should be able to follow his own path not what his parents have in mind for him

    Comment by Ian murdoch — 18 Apr 12 @ 0625 | Reply

    • Getting one’s ass blown up in Iraq or Afghanistan is not what I would consider a great life goal, especially considering that most people are there because of the Poverty Draft like this young man most certainly was. If Jared has to serve with Asperger’s, everybody else (by that I mean the upper classes and the sons /daughters of the politicians who started the war) should be serving too. This just seems to me to be putting disabled people like Jared into the armed forces as cannon fodder because society can’t deal with them normally or give them any decent help generally.

      Comment by Neville Ross — 18 Apr 12 @ 0756 | Reply

      • Here’s a follow-up to what I’ve been saying:

        Sunday, October 06, 2002

        I was thinking: the best long-term strategy to derail Bush’s serial war plans would be to reinstate the draft. Right now, with our “volunteer” army, only poor and working class families in America face death and injury to loved ones from Bush’s empire-building. Unfortunately, the poor and working class have no political clout in this country (for reasons we won’t get into here). If kids from middle-class and wealthy families started coming home in body bags, however, that would soon put a brake on U.S. aggression overseas.

        So we should have a campaign entitled something like “A Draft Without Deferments for a War Without End. All Americans Should Share the Burden Equally.” This would call for a universal draft of all men and women 18-24, selected by a birthday-based lottery. No student deferments, no alternative Bushian domestic National Guard escapes, no excuses at all. Anyone 4F but able to contribute in any way would still be drafted and sent to do non-combat work in the war zone.

        It may sound pretty unusual for the Left to be calling for the draft, but unprecedented times call for unprecedented strategies.

        Jack Clark

        A Draft Without Deferments for a War Without End. All Americans Should Share the Burden Equally

        Comment by Neville Ross — 18 Apr 12 @ 0910

      • You, sir, are a troll. In what way was this conscription?

        Comment by myth buster — 19 Apr 12 @ 1748

      • It’s conscription in that people who are of limited means in society (as explained in the article I excerpted) are basically the ones ‘drafted’ into the armed forces due to their situations in life. A lot of these people are Afro-Americans, Latinos and Latinas, poor whites from the South, people who need money for a college education and in this case, people like Jared Gunther. This young man could still join, but he should be doing his service Stateside and not in Iraq. Also, why do ordinary working class people like him have to join up for whatever reason and not the upper-middle class whose children should also be sharing the burden?

        Comment by Neville Ross — 20 Apr 12 @ 0942

      • Myth Buster,

        To be honest with you just shut up. I believe you’re ignorant, probably anti-military, and you’re just looking for a fight. I was originally diagnosed with Aspergers when I was younger and all I wanted to do was serve in the military. Each and every single American has the ability to decide for THEMSELVES whether or not they want to join the military. Whether they’re upper-middle class kids or poverty stricken adults. If a Presidents or Congress-persons kid wanted to join, at 18 no one could stop them. And, as a matter of fact, I have met people of that standing who HAVE joined. So don’t talk about this conscription BS. I believe that any American should never despise the ability to defend ones country, EVEN if there WAS a draft. It’s still your country. If you don’t like that or can’t accept it, go somewhere else.

        Comment by Hunter Taylor — 20 Apr 12 @ 1849

      • Sir, I am a Canadian Forces member, I hail from a middle-class family and am university educated. I am a non-commissioned member and I am not alone in this demographic. It is true that there are a larger number of lower socioeconomic soldiers/sailors/airmen in the US military due to higher education costs there but this certainly does not constitute a draft. US service personnel are not forced into service against their will, they have to sign a contract. By virtue of this fact it is not conscription. Furthermore, according to previous posts from our American neighbours on this site the US recruiting system appears to attempt to recruit all young persons deemed fit for service across all socioeconomic and educational strata. I understand the political paradigm you are outlining but the US has not instituted conscription since Vietnam. The fundamental nature of the draft is a complete lack of choice. Recruitment is not conscription; in fact, if conscription were instituted there would be limited need for recruitment because you wouldn’t need people to sell the military.

        Comment by Amilia — 20 Sep 13 @ 1709

  28. Sorry that was to Neville Ross

    Comment by Hunter Taylor — 20 Apr 12 @ 1849 | Reply

    • Furthermore, Mr. Taylor, I don’t despise the military at all, but I don’t like the wars that they are sent to fight, and a growing segment of the (North) American population (as I’ve already indicated, I’m from Canada) doesn’t like it either. To be against both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is not to be against the military in any way or form. I would respectfully suggest that you turn off Fox News and CNN and investigate other sources of info besidesthe official sources.

      Comment by Neville Ross — 23 Apr 12 @ 1252 | Reply

  29. So, your whole response to me is just to ‘shut up?’ You don’t have anything else more than that? And no, I wasn’t looking for a fight, but providing an alternate viewpoint-there was no need for you to be rude or angry. Obviously, you’ve bought into what the Bush administration has spewed about the war, as well as drunk most of the neocon Kool-Aid that Faux Noise and the rest of the mainstream media has said about both conflicts. Judging by you, it seems that some people like to stay ignorant of the truth and in the dark, so I’ll leave you to your ignorance and angry veteran mindset.

    Comment by Neville Ross — 23 Apr 12 @ 1239 | Reply

    • A study was done of KIA in Enduring Freedom. Most were middle class, white and from small towns. That is the main demographic of the American Military. It is true that economics is a factor in peace time active duty enlistment. In war it was college students, graduates, business owners, the most important members of society in combat, dying on the front lines. And yes many people chose to join their local national guard units. That way you fight with the people from your local community. We heard rumors when renlistment bonuses were going

      Comment by Sgt David DeVault 1st Minnesota Infantry Retired — 25 Feb 16 @ 0238 | Reply

  30. since i have mild autism i can still communicate well and my abilities are ok i only want to join the army as a field medic(someone healing soilders on the battle) is it not possible for me to join?

    Comment by jed nicholson — 31 May 12 @ 1349 | Reply

    • Jed, my son, 19yrs has Aspergers and he is just now completing basic training in the Army and will be training as a medic specialist. I was very worried at the beginning of his training, but it has turned out to be the best thing that ever happend to him. He has friends, communicates and we are very proud of how far he has come. So, Jed the sky is the limit…. go for it!

      Comment by Valenzuela — 31 May 12 @ 2341 | Reply

  31. Boy, people that are just guessing Autism and Asperger’s is disqualifying for the military research it.

    Comment by Alex — 5 Jun 12 @ 1410 | Reply

  32. Whoever wrote that autism is disqualifying from the military is simply put WRONG. That is not true. I have read the regulations. Epilepsy, with seizures within five years or medication within five years, is disqualifying. Do not trust what you read on these blogs. People seem to make stuff up. Also, commenting on somebody, a lot earlier, who wrote that people with autism should not be in the military because they are physically weaker, that is just plain stupid and misinformed. Physical weakness is NOT a symptom/result of autism. No way. No how. Sure, some people with autism are weak. So are some people without autism. But read up on any reputable diagnostic manual/info on autism and you will not find physical weakness as a sympton. Now I know why I generally do not read blogs. Full of false informationi…..

    Comment by Carol Smtih — 30 Sep 12 @ 1139 | Reply

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  34. I wonder how many young people who volunteer for the military who have an autism dx are assigned to the front line as opposed to those who don’t have the dx. And, of those, how many die on that front line, what is the percentage that have the dx. I would want those stats. They should exist. Anyone know how to get them? I think that would inform us of what is actually happening.

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  37. This is so wrong, it is people like you who keep people like me from ascertaining my dream of becoming a jet pilot for the US Air force. I was all set, in perfect health, at my mental peek, and a recruiter wouldn’t even speak to me because I have Aspergers. Maybe you should ask your child if they want to join before you ruin his chances because you were being a “Good parent”.

    Comment by Alexander Blackie — 10 Nov 13 @ 1247 | Reply

    • Aspergers is not a disability, it is a gift. We are the Olympians of the mind.

      Comment by Alexander Blackie — 10 Nov 13 @ 1248 | Reply

  38. I come from a heavy military background, and I would love to be able to serve my country. However, I have an ASD (Very mild though) and just because of that I am automatically unfit for military duty? There’s hundreds, probably thousands of people like me who WANT to serve in the military, yet because of being disabled, we are “unfit” for duty. Yet there’s thousands of people who would do anything to GET OUT of serving in the armed forces. An Autism diagnosis should NEVER rule out a career in the military. Each person with Autism is different. Stop telling us what we are and are not capable of.

    Comment by Victoria — 30 Nov 13 @ 0158 | Reply

  39. Unless you resolve that trigger, you will have issues.

    Like numerous issues in the universe viruses
    have started to adapt to the world about
    them. But, they hesitate to speak about this with their spouse or life companion.

    Comment by Arielle — 28 Jun 14 @ 1927 | Reply

  40. I can tell you first hand that myself as having mild autism was perfect for military service. I spent 8 years in Marine Corps. infantry as a rifleman with combat service in Afghanistan. I led troops and followed, I can tell you for some types of people with ASD military service is PERFECT. The attention to detail and focus in an INSANE environment is what brings service members home safe. I know it is in every parents nature to fear for the safety of their children but you need to let him be his own man.

    Comment by ASD Warfighter — 30 Jun 14 @ 1850 | Reply

  41. Wow, that’s pretty pathetic that you think any parent would have to write a letter asking them not to recruit their child, seeing as at most they will call you once or twice. You have to go to them, they don’t go chasing autistic kids to join the military. To research the entire command of the local recruiting station probably means your child isn’t the only one with autism. BTW, cav scout is definitely not the most dangerous job in the Army. If I were you I’d be embarrassed that your son caused a recruiter investigation.

    Comment by PFC Carter — 1 Jul 15 @ 1944 | Reply

  42. I honestly hope they cough up a cure before people of my generation hit their forties. I’ll be damned if they don’t cause I don’t like being labelled disabled, and right now I’m only seeing inconveniences of having any form of autism at all!

    Comment by Gabriel Mellett — 9 Sep 15 @ 1307 | Reply

  43. What is the problem. If he can do the job let him serve. I served for 20 years and retired as a well respected sergeant with seven deployments. Oh I have ADHD so did a lot of my soldiers. Please recruit my kids any branch any job, they are not perfect. No one is we all helped each other. Do you hate this disabled. Think that they can’t make a mature decision to stand up for liberty.

    Comment by Sgt David DeVault 1st Minnesota Infantry Retired — 25 Feb 16 @ 0005 | Reply

  44. My son who is 22 yrs old is in basic training at Ft Benning as we speak. He was diagnosed with Asbergers in Elementary school. He almost never spoke in school and had pretty severe communication problems with everyone but family. He was put on several medications before finding one that helped. He also went to counciling several times a week for years. As he went through school he struggled academically and we though he would need a waver just to graduate. Between his 10th and 11th grade years he matured and decided he wanted to graduate with honors. He worked incredibly hard and did. He went on to college and although it hasn’t been easy he is only a few credits away from getting his bachelors degree. As anyone who knows this condition, they get almost obsessed with things or ideas. Well he was determined to enlist like many others in our family. He likes/needs structure and rules, so I thought he might do really well in the service, but he is in week 9 of basic and Is really struggling with the stress. Like to the point of almost not being able to function. I’ve only talk to him a couple times in the 9 weeks but he still has trouble speaking he is so upset. Every letter he just wants to come home and says everyday he is barely holding on. He enlisted in infantry (which I begged him not to do) he is National Guard so he will come home after AIT,, he wants to reclass when he gets home but I don’t know if he can. My question is will he be able to reclass or will they make him stay infantry? If his unit were to be deployed and he was sent overseas, I know for a fact he would have a mental breakdown. I thought before maybe he could handle this because he has done well over the last few years but seeing how he has struggled through basic I know he can’t handle a deployment in infantry. My question is should he go talk to someone while he is at Benning, or wait till he gets home. I thought once he got past the first few weeks he would be ok (my other son said that’s the worst) but he doesn’t seem to be any better. He said he is so stressed he can’t sleep. I just need someone to advise us on what we should do. Thank you so much for any input .

    Comment by Marci — 14 Aug 16 @ 1723 | Reply

    • Hello Marci,
      My son also enlisted in the Army and served two years, when they found out he had Asperges he was Honorably Discharged. Through Basic also at Ft Benning, it was tough at times, we just encouraged him and Prayed so much for him, but because of the structure and daily routine he began to do well. We were so proud that he accomplished Basic., he made a few friends (which is not easy for them, to let anyone in). His first deployment was to South Korea which was ok at first until I believe one of his battle buddies said something to the staff seargents, from that moment on they seem to single him out and he began to shut everyone out. Though he told me he did his job and never complained. Since then he still has hope that he can re-Iist, it’s been hard for me as a mom, because I see how the Army really changed and taught him, he wants to be successful and despite the social skills that they struggle with, they deserve to succeed just like everyone else. He’s a real gentleman, works hard is in college and is so punctual, I’m very proud of him. Continue to pray for son, encourage him, tell him also to talk to the Lord, I did and my son would tell me , mom I’ve been praying. Marci I will pray for your son and you and just know the Lord has an awesome plan for him. My advice is, if they know he has been medically diagnosed with Autusim, they will release him. Hong in there. Donna

      Comment by Donna Valenzuela — 14 Aug 16 @ 1833 | Reply

      • Wow Donna,, I am choking back tears right now. To know someone else knows how I feel is overwhelming and comforting. I am so proud of all my son has done,, like I said we thought he would need a waiver just to graduate because he couldn’t pass the ISTEP exams. Then he decided he wanted to graduate with honors. No one thought he could do it, but he did! And in collage he has done it completely in his own. He seems to feel like he has to prove himself to everyone. I think he feels ashamed of his diagnosis,, which I always tell him he should never be,, but also be proud of all he has achieved. He also really struggles with making friends. He never had friends in school mostly because communication was so hard for him, plus he didn’t have the same interests as the other kids.
        I pray for him everytime he pops in my head throughout the day,, and he is very faithful and goes to church. He told me one good thing throughout the last several weeks is that he has been brought closed to God.
        I really thought as bad as he wanted to do this he would be ok,, but now I’m not so sure. And if I knew they would let him reclass I would keep telling him to be strong and get through it. But I’m afraid,, what if I’m telling him the wrong thing and he can’t reclass and gets deployed? I’m terrified what it would do to him emotionally. Like I could see him having a total meltdown and shutting down completely. My heart is breaking for him right now because I know how he is struggling. I have always been there for him,, and I can’t be this time. But you think he should finish basic and AIT? I appreciate you input and prayers more than you know. I feel very alone because my husband just says “he will be fine” ,, he has never rally acknowledged the struggle our son has gone through. I just want to give him the right advice and support,, I just don’t know what that is. THANKYOU again so much

        Comment by Marci — 14 Aug 16 @ 1944

      • Marci, I’m glad you got my message. Yes! My husband would say the same thing, he’ll be fine, but as a mom we want so much to protect them from being hurt, humiliated etc.. The Lord did teach me through his word (Jer 29:11) that His plan for my son was to give him a hope and a future. My son, also.. Once they grab that interest of something (anything) they do not let it go, almost obsessed with it. He did the same, struggled also with opening up, talking , even making friends, but did mention to me that during basic, they break you down to teach you to rely on the soldier next to you. So I think this forced him to try and speak to others. I believe your son is doing well if he has made it to 9 weeks, so yes he can. It’s so hard, and trust me I cried a lot during those days for him. And I also thought the same thing if he were put into a situation In combat, with that condition being very literal and needing structure, having to react on a whim would be … Oh I don’t even want to think about it, he’d totally shut down and that would be tragic. What I do see now, is that the Army was the best thing that happened in his life, it’s bittersweet for me because he feels incomplete right now they didn’t allow him complete his four year contract (he fought it, and showed he was capable to do his job in logistics, but autism disqualifies them) I wish they would of let him finish. But I do my best to keep reminding him that going through basic and serving is something not everyone could ever do, and that if that was tough!, then everything from now on is easy! Oh, I feel your pain right now, my heart aches and takes me back to those days. But please just have faith do attend his graduation at basic and you will see what a wonderful brave young man the Lord has blessed you with, and your heart will be filled with such joy! Oh another thing I really believe the Lord revealed to me, to let go and let God! We want so much as moms to take care of everything, but The Lord says, “let Me and Trust Me” . Wether your son makes it through, or gets released, you will look back and know it all worked out the way it was supposed to. Praying for you both… Donna

        Comment by Donna Valenzuela — 14 Aug 16 @ 2052

  45. I have AS and I’ve been a soldier in the Canadian forces for 25 years and I’m a senior NCO. I’ve been in since I was 16 years old; part time and now full time. It is very possible for people with ASD to serve.
    Military service has advantages and disadvantages for high functioning autistics. In my own case some positions I’ve held where I am frequently in conflict with other soldiers and have to tell people no a lot are very draining and leave me exhausted. Some soldiers can be bullies and pick on others when they are insecure or don’t want to look bad.
    However in the military there is a rule for everything and a specific way you are supposed to interact with superiors. People tell you specifically when to show up, what to bring and what to wear. There is a way to do every job, standards for every activity and a reference book for every piece of equipment and task we perform. This certainty is very reassuring. I show up on time, work hard when no one is looking and I’m compulsively honest, which is what the army is looking for. It is within certain limits a very predictable organization with a weekly routine that hasn’t changed since before the Boer War. This stability and predictability is terribly reassuring.
    People would marvel that I could do things like pay attention intensely on sentry for hours at a time and notice and remember things that everyone else missed seeing. I can very rapidly become an expert on things and make myself extremely useful. In Afghanistan in 3 months I learned how to speak Dari well enough to get by without a translator much of the time when teaching the Afghans.
    I’ve done 2 tours one of which was a combat tour in a combat arms unit and I did fine. I and all my troops came home safe. My biggest problem was that my boss was a bully and an asshole which was exhausting. Getting shot at and returning fire was just like training and honestly less stressful than dealing with my superior.
    One of the greatest things is that I have known many of the same people for 20 years. It is really hard for me to communicate with people and takes me an abnormally long time to really get to know anyone so this is fantastic for me. I understand them and they (mostly) understand me. You are put into intense situations where you just need to learn to get along with people.
    The military is the only job I’ve ever been able to get and keep and I would highly encourage anyone with high functioning ASD to look into it and see if there is a trade that fits them.

    Comment by Leo B — 24 Aug 16 @ 2002 | Reply

  46. I am an Army Infantry veteran and I also live with Aspergers. I personally know what it is like being in the military while also living with Aspergers Syndrome my whole life. The military way of life for those that are on the Autism Spectrum is usually very hard, almost like the feeling of a personal hell! It may be hard, but you CAN do it. When I enlisted, My recruiter was aware of my Aspergers Syndrome, ( which I was told would bar my enlistment) , but he decided not to put that in my enlistment records. Because of that, in basic training & AIT, I was recycled and almost quit. Most drill Sergeants dont give a shit what condition or ” problems” you have. You just have to dig deeeeeep down with everything you have, take ll the putdowns & show everyone ( especially yourself) that you are stronger than what they think and that you CAN do it! Remember the warrior’s creed, ” I will NEVER quit”!

    Comment by Greg — 11 Dec 16 @ 1949 | Reply

  47. A person on the Autism spectrum CAN thrive in the military–but it depends on the MOS, the support from fellow soldiers who understand, a commander with experience in communicating with those like that soldier, and even gender. Girls who are autistic but high functioning can be “missed”, but it doesn’t make the subsequent diagnosis or fallout therefrom go away. It just means that the situation was right for both the unit and the soldier–but it is most certainly not the norm. I am that former soldier, and I made it to sergeant. I tested 41 on my ASQ, which I went into blind–I did not know what to expect. It’s just a questionnaire. I did, however, get into some spots of trouble–so it was not smooth sailing. As for boot camp–I had to recycle and finish with another brigade because I usually have to take a course twice to get it to stick. So, to adjust, I prepare first, then take a simpler version of the course I expect to take, then I take the course itself. When I do that, I pass with flying colors.

    Comment by Dane Elder — 12 Dec 16 @ 1529 | Reply

  48. so i may have made a mistake.. recently i found out i have autism. life has always been a struggle. crying myself to sleep, praying to god and asking why am i like this. my life ive always felt alone. every day to day tasks are hard. i failed kindergarten, im not sure how i graduated high school at all. i cant keep focus, i have a hard time remembering a lot of things. and forget talking to people.. its so bad. i dont talk. even to a lot family members. etc. i made a 47 on the asvab after studying for 2 weeks with my boyfriend who is an honor student. you may ask how did i get into the military. and how did i just recently find out i had autism. so im 21. i didn’t talk till i was 3 even then i didnt talk. i still dont. i get anxious doing anything dealing with people like i had a panic attack working at belk. i had a random seizure in 6th grade band class. i am really good at art. i mean im really good. the littlest things bother me. my socks in my shoes. a wrinkle in a bed i made. it drives my boy friend mad. i have weird views on things such as animals. my sister called a horse ugly and i had an episode i was 12 and my dad had to carry me home. i cant stand nudity. like it drives me crazy i have a lot of morals like i dont curs, drink, watch rater R even some pg 13 movie and neither does my boyfriend, i cant understand if someone has a different view than i do. i have always always wanted to be a vet. thats why i joined the military to pay for school. all my life ive been told i cant do it. im dumb. literally if i had a quarter for every time someone called me dumb id be rich. ive have had severe depression. whats scarier than believing you will never make in the world. whats the point of me? everyday is a struggle. but i have proved so many people wrong. no one knows i am autistic they just think im weird and dumb. so i was driving in my car at night,and a commercial came on for autism. i had heard of autism but never really new what it was. and the little boy saying what he struggled with. and it clicked. the next day i met up with my mom and she was quiet for a bit. then she told me that her and my dad took me in to get looked at because i was 3 and still hadn’t spoken. well the doctor told them that i had autism. but he didn’t put it in my record as he said it would follow me wherever i went, if i ever wanted to do anything. well now i have completed basic training, i have finished tech school for air craft structural maintenance. i just got back and in processed. that sounds great and all but literally i made it by the skin of my teeth every step has been so hard. i cant stress that enough. i mad a mistake. there is a reason people like me are not allowed to join. i want to know is there any way/ hope i can make this better. as in get out without a dishonorable discharge. i dont know what else to do. all i ever wanted was to go to school. ive gone through heck to be here but i cant keep doing this to my self everyday. i dont sleep, im on edge all the time, i have countless breakdowns. any suggestions would be great.

    Comment by nicole — 17 Sep 17 @ 1840 | Reply

    • Nicole you should be very proud of yourself. You have completed one of the most difficult things you will probably do in your life and that is getting through basic training. Remember not everyone can do that, if that is hard, you did it. The military is very structured and that I believe is good for someone with high functioning autism, you know what is expected of you and I think it’s a good thing. My son was honorably discharged from the Army because they found out he was aspergers, he fought it but they didn’t let him complete his contract. That became hard for him and all he wanted to do was finish and go to school, just like you. Please hang in there, pray, truly seek the Lord because you’ve come this far, and the Lord has an awesome plan for your life. I pray the Lord will bless you, comfort you and fill you with courage that you will become the woman he has created you to be. Be blessed Nicole.

      Comment by Donna Valenzuela — 17 Sep 17 @ 2044 | Reply

  49. I have low level autism and can i join the military,

    Comment by Trevor Siegmeier — 19 Mar 18 @ 0906 | Reply

  50. Leo, thank you so much for your very honest and helpful comments.

    Comment by Kiley Philp — 25 Apr 18 @ 2224 | Reply

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