Research Information Request:
Asperger Syndrome in the Military Service
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reading this request for information to forward this complete post.
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On the ASPIRES web site, please find the
first article of its kind, addressing Asperger Syndrome (AS) and military
service. It is found at
The article referred to above is directed
towards commanders in the field. It is not a medical treatise, nor is it
designed for mental health or psychological professionals in the armed
forces. It may be of interest to AS adults or AS students if there is
interest in a young or mature adult's enlisting in the armed forces.
The author will be working with Department
of Defense decision-makers and others to develop personnel policies
uniform throughout all of the US armed forces affecting reporting,
evaluation, and administrative protocols for retention, reassignment, and
separation from the service.
The author requests those who have been in
the active, reserves, or National Guard military service to please contact
him so that he can complete a second article on AS and the military. That
article will focus on identifying, evaluating, reassigning or separating
AS individuals from the service with an emphasis, in all such steps, on a
Why this Research?
It is no secret that many adults now being
diagnosed for the first time with AS are serving or have served with
distinction and for varying periods of time and varying degrees of success
in the armed services. Now that more is known about Asperger Syndrome in
adults, constructive proposals and suggestions regarding sensitive
handling of AS in the military are overdue.
Choice of whether or not to serve in the
military is a personal matter. Respectful discussion of that issue should
acknowledge the highly individual nature of each adult person's right to
make decisions regarding military service.
What makes this topic a matter of moment
is the radical change experienced in all military services, both in this
country and around the world, very much a function of technology and
transportation allowing rapid deployment and "turn on the dime" demands
placed on individuals and their units of assignment. Individuals who, in
the past, have been accustomed to set routines and predictable working
conditions may find themselves suddenly facing challenging, new conditions
that generate out-of-scale reactions to change that do not appear to be
correctable. Under combat and high-stress conditions, their reaction to
sudden demands and rapid changes may present a danger to themselves or to
About the Researcher
This author has managed a small number of
cases of AS adults involved with military service, and understands the
policy and practical issues of what happens when things are handled badly,
or not at all. He expects to handle more of these cases.
The principal researcher has counseled
young and mature adults for forty years, starting this work as a personnel
specialist in the US Army in the mid to late 1960's. He specializes in
comprehensive, wrap-around case management. He has been trained in
person-centered counseling and a variety of whole-person humanistic
approaches, including cognitive behavioral therapy. He is a cognitive
disability consultant to professionals in agencies and private practice,
and maintains a small practice as a paid social security claimant
representative. He is author of the Asperger Syndrome Employment
Workbook (2001), a chapter in Ask and Tell (Shore, ed. 2004)
and a forthcoming book on peer-led Asperger Syndrome adult support groups.
Who may Participate
Individuals with military experience, or
with military experience in their immediate families where there is
informed reason to believe that the service member is Asperger Syndrome.
The subject individual may either be self-diagnosed or formally diagnosed
by a licensed medical or mental health professional.
Reporters should be individuals who...
1. are AS themselves and have served in
the armed forces of any country, at any level, at any time; and/or
2. are adult children of parents,
caregivers, friends or close family members who have reason to believe a
given active or former member of the armed forces is Asperger Syndrome.
Other Entities Likely to Participate in
Other allies in the information gathering
process include independent family support service organizations
working with families of armed services personnel where there is
disability in the family, Asperger Syndrome included. The military's own
family support system does address the issue of AS children and
non-serving spouses through its community services programs at each
location where families are billeted, whether on base or off base.
and their social support specialists as are being asked to provide any
information they offer to former military members and their families
regarding the rights of such former service members to new or continuing
medical and mental health care for themselves and their family members.
are now seeing an increasing number of young and older adults either
diagnosed with AS or likely to be diagnosed as a result of the medical and
psychological screening that is a part of the recruitment and voluntary
service entrance process. Individuals in all service ready and inactive
reserves, when called back to active duty, are processed through
recruitment centers. There is an informal network within the recruiting
command designed to handle each application on a case-by-case basis. At
present, there are no services-wide policies regarding AS.
recruitment and retention matters are handled at the state level, but will
follow nationally developed policy. State adjutants general,
appointed by governors in each state will add additional guidance
materials for local units relating to mental health matters in conformity
with national policy. Governors' sensitivity to AS can be raised
through the efforts of state legislators and the autism community
concerned enough to approach state capitols with accurate, non-hysterical,
non-sensationalistic information about AS.
The US Congress has members easily
approached to discuss AS without ratcheting talk about AS to a hysterical
or politically insensitive level. Some autism allies in Congress may have
to be bypassed in order to accomplish the delicate task of having others
carry this issue "clean" of the kind of stridency and theatrics known to
turn of many of their fellow House and Senate members. Some of these
better candidates to carry the issue are in powerful positions on the
appropriate policy formation and oversight committees in both chambers.
Research for the second article will only
partially involve anecdotal information collected from personal accounts.
Much of the material to be found in the second article will summarize the
best procedures and practices of handling diagnosis, disclosure, and the
aftermath of working effectively with late diagnosed adolescents and
adults. The author will solicit information from professionals
experienced in the fields of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and those who
design programs for individuals with mental health and developmental
differences following institutional discharge or repeated, short episodes
of high-intensity out-patient care.
The preferred method for gathering data is
a telephone interview. The author is developing a short questionnaire
designed for that interview.
The author recognizes that some
individuals with Asperger Syndrome are not comfortable using the
telephone. A written questionnaire will soon be available at a web site
for convenient downloading, completion, and return via Email. Because
telephone interviews often involve follow-up questions, the written
questionnaire will be longer so as to prompt answers to either "yes" or
"no" questions requiring further explanation.
Individuals completing the questionnaire
in writing are encouraged to retain a copy for themselves.
Confidentiality, Privacy and Contributor
Individuals contacting the author will be
assured that their identification will remain confidential. However, for
purposes of authentication and verification, such identifying information
will be retained in research documentation leading to the second article.
If the author intends to use direct quotes he will notify each person
requesting specific written permission to do so while still preserving
their anonymity. The final article may not be submitted to contributing
individuals for either scrutiny or editorial approval. Individuals whose
words are directly quoted are assured that their comments will be used in
contextually appropriate ways. No separate contributor copyright shall
attach to such quotations.
Author contact Information
Email and telephone calls are welcome.
Roger N. Meyer
Subject Line: AS in the Military Service
Phone (US): 503-666-2776
Roger N. Meyer
"...of a different mind"