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Autism: Taking steps locally to determine whether autism exists in the family and where help is available
Editor’s Note: The United States recognizes April – National Autism Awareness Month - as a special opportunity to educate the public about Autism and issues within the Autism community. Autism is treatable. Children do not "outgrow" Autism, but studies show that early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes. If you have concerns about your child, please make an appointment with his/her Primary Care Manager (PCM). Guthrie Clinic enrollees can call (315)772-2778. It is important that Active Duty Family Members with medical disabilities are enrolled in the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) medically and educationally in order to receive benefits under the Extended Care Health Option (ECHO) Program. The ECHO Program offers services that are not covered under the Basic TRICARE Policy, such as respite care and medical equipment. EFMP POC is Suzan Ruiz, EFMP case coordinator, at Clark Hall, (315)772-4653.
If you are a military member or TRICARE beneficiary who is concerned that autism or one of the spectrum disorders may exist within a family member, the first step, according to the Guthrie Health Benefits Advisor, Clinical Operations, is to seek an appointment with your Primary Care Manager (PCM) at Guthrie Clinic.
If a child is suspected to have autism, the PCM will see and refer the child for a Pediatric Developmental Evaluation. Based on the evaluation outcome and the level or severity of autism that is diagnosed, the child can receive additional services through early intervention to include occupational therapy, physical therapy and/or speech therapy.
Some of the local assistance and support resources that exist are listed below. (Note: Please be aware that TRICARE PRIME Family Members must obtain an authorization from their PCM before receiving medical appointments or care from civilian medical providers. The civilian medical providers must be participating in the TRICARE PRIME Benefit.)
Benchmark Family Services
Central New York Chapter - Autism Society of America Contact
Disabled Persons Action Organization (DPAO)
EPEC (Exceptional Parent, Exceptional Child)
NNY Autism Center
Northern Regional Center for Independent Living (NRCIL)
The Guthrie Health Benefits Advisor also offers an important reminder that Active Duty family members with medical disabilities need to be enrolled in the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) in order to receive benefits under the Extended Care Health Option (ECHO) Program. ECHO offers services that are not covered under the Basic TRICARE Policy, such as respite care, medical equipment, and transportation.
Sponsors should always check with the EFMP Coordinator at their assigned Military installation before PCS'ing to see if the medical services that are needed by their family members are available at the new duty station. Locally, sponsors can contact an EFMP Coordinator at (315)772-4620 and explain the type of specialty care the family needs.
For more information, contact the Guthrie Health Benefits Advisor at (315)772-5111