ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Military life presents some unique challenges. Military Families and Families working for the military relocate a lot. In addition, Military Families experience longer and more frequent deployments since 9/11. When parents deploy, children often face difficult
issues, such as transfers in and out of schools, leaving friends and family, while also dealing with emotions regarding their parent's deployment.

Moving is a hard reality of military life. As a result, Families find themselves constantly adjusting their lifestyle to accommodate these changes. Relocating and deployments can put stress on any Family, but having a child with special needs complicates matters even more. The needs of military Families are similar to any other family living with special needs, such as teaching children social skills and supporting and helping them become as independent as possible. However, military
Families must find local services and support with each new move. And when a family member is deployed, the parent left behind has to manage all of the parenting duties on their own.

Learning how to navigate the Special Education system can be difficult for any family, but for military Families whose educational environments are constantly changing, it is an even greater challenge. For any child in a military Family where homes, schools, and neighborhoods frequently change, parents are the constant factor. If a child does not receive an adequate education, the Family will face the consequences for years to come. As Families learn the system and interact with professionals, they must remember that they are the experts on their children and that no one else has a greater knowledge or interest in their children. Parents also need to know that they are not alone. Resources are available to help them navigate community systems and get support they need.

Programs such as the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) assist Families by addressing the Family's special needs. This includes any special medical, mental health, developmental or educational need. The local community is also essential in helping Military Families transition into new communities. Information and insights regarding the best doctors, schools, teachers, grants, camps, recreation programs, etc. are best shared through word of mouth by members of the community who utilize resources for Family members with special needs. The EFMP and local support groups have unified efforts to bring these resources to Aberdeen Proving Ground. EFMP sponsors Special Needs Networking and Support Groups on the third Wednesday of each Month.

For further information, call Nancy Goucher, EFMP, 410-278-2420.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16