Proudly Supporting all Military Families with a Special Needs Dependent
Our Military Spouse of the Day today is Mandy Farmer, an Air Force spouse currently stationed in Washington, DC. She says her best experience thus far with military life was experiencing a deployment homecoming with my husband and my kids. “We had been through a lot of deployments and homecomings as a couple, but watching my children light up at the sight of my husband at our last homecoming was by far my favorite moment as a military spouse.”
Mandy and her family have overcome some major obstacles, however. Accessing therapies for their autistic son and finding the right balance between medication, therapies and education has been most challenging. She says, “It’s a constant balancing act and with every move we have to access all of that all over again, but he is in a much better place right now than he was a couple years ago and that is thanks to finally getting him the care he needs.”
To ‘de-stress’, Mandy has found that finding other special needs moms who ‘get it’ is absolutely critical to her sanity! She and her friends try to get together every month and support each other over glasses of wine. She hopes to find other special needs mom friends as their next assignment, as well. Mandy writes as a form of catharsis, and she tries to get to the gym away from the kids a few times a week to manage stress and take care of herself.
Mandy has some really wonderful advice for families that are new to the military special needs world, Mandy says to keep the lines of communication between you and your spouse open. “With crazy schedules and a lot of responsibilities at home and work it’s hard sometimes to get on the same page. For military spouses with special needs children, make sure you are taking care of yourselves and letting your spouse know when things are too much. We so often try to put up a strong front so our service member can focus on the mission, but there is nothing weak about admitting when you’re drowning. Talk to your spouse about ways they can help lessen your load. Utilize the resources available to you. Find support in your community. Set up respite when you can access it. And for our military members, do everything you can to help get your spouse set up for success while you tend to the mission. Make sure your spouse has good contacts she/he can rely on in a pinch when you are away. Work with your EFMP office or case manager to make sure you are accessing all of the support that is available to your family. It’s critical when it is time for orders or a PCS to do your research on all new duty station possibilities. Call providers to check on availability and waitlists. Call school districts about what type of special education programs they offer. Join local Facebook groups to get word of mouth referrals regarding providers. Military Special Needs Network and American Military Families Autism Support have been invaluable to us for moves and getting set up as early as possible at our new assignment. Military life with a special needs child is a whirlwind, but you have large communities that are more than willing to support and help you through it!”
Recently, Mandy and her eldest son, Brennan, wrote the autism sibling book “What About Me?” They wanted to bring light to the struggles and joys autism siblings experience and let them know they aren’t alone. The book has sold 300 copies since its release last month and is available on Amazon. (http://a.co/0fuiGNH)
The Military Special Needs Network honors and salutes Mandy Farmer, our Military Spouse of the Day. We thank you for being such a wonderful military spouse and an amazing advocate.
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