Wordy Wenesday- CYS


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It might not be morning anymore where your at, but here in a Hawaii it is. And it is a beautiful one. Only a small cloud cap on the mountain by base; so you can see the observation tower at the top as the clouds pass.

But I’m not writing to boast about my amazing life here; well sometimes {wink}. This morning I was planning on re-registering my three spawn with Child and Youth Services(CYS). Before now all three had expiration dates in three different months. Finally, I let SB’s lapse and I’m going to do Bugs early. Maybe we can finally get them on the same schedule?

So what is Child and Youth Service? (CYS)? For us here in Hawaii, and I think most military installations, CYS is under MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation). Under MWR you will find a lot of helpful programs from a Scream-Free Parenting course, New Baby Program and how to sign up for swim lessons. The most important department for me under MWR is Child and Youth Services (CYS).

At CYS, the one thing you need to do and know is this is where you go to register your children for sports, Parents Night Out (if your base supports this), after school programs, hourly care and more. Mainly if you want your child to participate in anything on base, they will need to be registered with CYS.

I probably picked the wrong month to have my children re-registered with CYS. This is a yearly re-registration you will have to do. Why is August a bad month? Well one of the requirements is a up to date physical and shots. Which means you will be battling all those parents (like I did yesterday) trying to get their children up to date for school enrollment. But to help limit the time I linked up the Hawaii CYS registration packet that can be found online. I am assuming that some of the forms are Army wide. If you plan on downloading please make sure you print off the ones that are relevant for you.

Hawaii CYS Registration Packet 

 

Have a beautiful day!

 

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Tricare/Therapy Thursdays- Myths About EFMP


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I got some “great” advice when we first entered the Army- Dont register for EFMP. <— that was sarcasm, did you see that? Because signing up for EFMP is the real great advice. But your probably asking what the heck is EFMP.


According to Military One Source

What is the Exceptional Family Member Program?

The EFMP supports military families with special medical and educational needs. The program has three components:

  • Identification and enrollment of a family member with special medical or educational needs
  • Assignment coordination to determine the availability of services at the projected duty station
  • Family support to help families identify and access programs and service”

EFMP is a confidential program. It is on a need to know basis. Basically it’s main purpose is to assist with assignment purposes only. Enrolling in EFMP will not increase or decrease your chances at unaccompanied or accompanied tours or deployments.

In order to enroll in EFMP here are some helpful forms:

DD Form 2792

DD Form 2792-1

Ok, now that we got the basics out of the way, lets talk about some of the myths; including the reason behind why I was told to never go on EFMP.

Myth 1: Your husband will never be promoted
This is the reason I was told as a brand spanking new Army wife to never enroll a family member in EFMP. I was told the reasoning was because if we enrolled in EFMP, it will show the solider has to much going on in his personal life to be able to handle the tasks and job in the Army.

Myth 2: It limits your duty station; in so facto, limits promotions
This is one reason you need to enroll in EFMP if you qualify. By enrolling in EFMP you will be ensured that you are only PCSed to locations that can handle your medical needs. Every base has a radius of medical care doctors, therapists, and the like have to be within. Example: While stationed at Fort Rucker, AL, we were told upon our overseas EFMP screening that Fort Rucker’s radius for medical care is 40 miles. They explained that since care for our son was over the 40 mile radius, as dependents we can not be stationed at Fort Rucker again. However, Hubs can still go to Fort Rucker for schooling, classes and presumably be stationed there. As dependents we would have to find alternative lodging. So I was shocked when we got orders to Hawaii. I underestimated the medical system here. “Tripler Army Medical Center is the only federal tertiary care hospital in the Pacific Basin”, per TAMC’s website.

Myth 3: EFMP is only for the severely disabled
Um, no. All three of my children are on EFMP. They walk, talk, eat and poop just the same as you and me (well, mostly). Enrolling them on EFMP was to ensure that when we did PCS from Hawaii, we would move to a place that meet all their needs for medical and therapies. That, however, does not mean medical and therapies will be open when arriving to our new duty station. I know for certain there are wait lists at specific bases for ABA and respite.

Myth 4: Being on EFMP puts you first on the priority list for housing
Oh, how I wish I knew about how that worked when we moved here (and lived in a hotel for 59 days). Enrolling in EFMP only means there are needs that need to be meet. And as you know, everyone has different needs; not everyone needs are the same. For example, I have three kids with three different reason for enrollment on EFMP. With that being said, you need to submit your paperwork to housing for them to make the judgement if you qualify for special housing or priority on a wait list. Had I known this we would have been bumped up on the wait list. In Hawaii, they then submit our EFMP paperwork to the medical board who makes the decision whether or not we need priority or special housing. To find out what paperwork is needed, please call your housing office on post. I suggest calling before you PCS so you can make sure you have all needed documents on hand or if possible provide them ahead of your arrival.

Myth 5: Being enrolled in EFMP makes the service member non-deployable
HAHAHAAHA! Sorry for laughing, but I can tell you that my husband just did a 12 month deployment and we have three (two at the time) children on EFMP and one has a life-long, life-threatening condition. A service members status is always deployable.

Just remember the service member is at the needs of the Army. The EFMP is to help the family members enrolled. Giving the service member the reassurance that his/her families health needs will be taken care of at their duty station makes a prepared and ready service member. My husband found solace in knowing that his family was taken care of when he deployed. And he finds that same solace in knowing when we PCS again that we will only go where our children will be taken care of. Even if that means accepting another tour here. He has never been told our EFMP status has effected his work or his promotion status. And most people at his work do not even know that he has three children on EFMP.

EFMP can be a great source of help and assistance. Please don’t be afraid of enrolling, and actually you HAVE to enroll if you are instructed to by your doctor.

Her & Nicole

Tricare Testing the Waters; Failing to Swim


Again it looks like AD (active duty) families are rightfully spared the chopping block…this time. But with the raising cost of health care aligned with the rise in diagnosed ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) children; when will the two clash? Some are complaining that Autism is being over and misdiagnosed.  Parents are searching for a scapegoat for either their own poor parenting skills, uncontrollable children or  lack of a different diagnosis. With all these new cases of ASD coming to the forefront those with extreme or mild ASD are the ones who will eventually suffer. When cases come up with severe ASD children, there might not be enough ABA’s or therapists to handle the case.  In the future, something will have to give. I’m thinking we will either see changes to the Tricare ABA policy permanent or the cost share will dramatically go up.

I think what we were all witness to was Tricare dipping their toes in the water. How far can they push until they get a reaction? However, instead of a simple toe dip, Tricare jumped in head first. Luckily, us parents were there to save them before they drowned. Maybe they will learn their lesson. Nevertheless, as a parent, I have a feeling they are going to test the boundaries a few more times.

In an email addressed on July 24th, one day before the new Tricare ABA guidelines were suppose to go into effect, Tricare sent out a passive yet informative email.  They wrote “Beginning July 25, 2013, the Department of Defense is expanding autism services available to retirees and other non-active duty family members with the introduction of the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) pilot program. There are no changes to the level of care and service being currently provided to active-duty family members.”

No apologies were written for their abrupt and unemotional apathetic rudeness towards military families with special needs children. But isn’t that one of the first things we teach our children; when to say “sorry”?

Let’s CELEBRATE Good Times… Come On!


Kool and the Gang had it right! It’s a celebration and a great morning in the Autism advocacy community. I had been working on a article with graphs and charts going over the new policy changed in comparison to the old ABA policy Tricare used. But your hearing it first folks. NO CHANGES FOR ACTIVE DUTY! However, they will be enacting strict rules and guidelines for non-active duty.

I just read about it here.

“According to Tricare’s website, the insurance group is will not change coverage reqrequirements for therapy active duty members who have children with autism. However, there will be strict requirements for non-active duty members whose children need the services.”

While reading over Tricares policy pages (which was last updated 17 July 2013), it states

“Covered ABA by Board Certified Behavior Analysts under the basic TRICARE benefit includes:

Functional Behavioral Assessment and Analysis/Initial Behavioral Plan
ABA services to the beneficiary
Updated ABA Treatment Plan
ABA interventions to family member/caregivers”

Gone is the paragraph after paragraph of explanations for each new policy. We are now back to the simple -this is why is covered, this is what it costs, and this is who can tutor.

Furthermore, if you look at the PDF that is attached you will see it is the one old written back in 2008 and last updated in February of this year.

Excuse me for my hastily writing. My fingers were eager to get this down and out of my mind and my kids are just as eager for breakfast. Hopefully more will come out about the changes made. But until then sit back and rejoice in the facts that our children are going to be OK.

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** UPDATE– Tricare has contacted providers stating “there will be no changes at all for active duty. Increased services for retired and new assessments only for retired.”

However in addition to their statement they sent providers they have released this new document regarding the changes.

So it looks like there is still some more to come from the Tricare ABA debacle. But at least now they are trying to spell things out instead of mascarading them behind literature we can’t understand.

For example- two year cap on ABA services.

Tricare from the start said there would be waivers after the two year period you can apply for. And now they really stress the wavier procedure. Really I think this is just giving Tricare time to establish a better and more conclusive policy eliminating any grey areas. Because if you think; Tricare just have themselves their own extension to policy.

Those living overseas will lose ABA

True.

This is why it is imperative that you enroll the dependent with Autism in EFMP. EFMP is here to make sure when you are assigned to a new duty station, the duty station has all the medical and behavioral services the dependent will need. For instance, I know personally of families who were sent to Alaska and had a child diagnosis with Autism. Because the child’s needs could not be meet due to the diagnosis, they were moved to a duty station that was equipped. You are doing disservices to the diagnosed individual if you do not enroll them.

Overall I really think we will be fine. Reading everyone else so upset and irate over this topic has made me just the opposite. So take deep breaths and breathe.

We Are Army Strong- part 2 Helping ASD Kids Understand Memorial Day


Yesterday I shared with you a sampling of what it is like as a military family and all the emotions that come along with it. I also shared how I wanted to educate and explain those feelings to my two ASD kids. It is already a challenge to explain a holiday that has such a significant meaning in our lives, let alone trying to explain a intangible emotion and holiday to children who don’t understand emotions and feelings.
Instead of telling them all about the pride and love we have for our military the best way to help them understand is to give everything a tangible format. I know with my kids they do not do grey. They take everything at face value and sarcasm and jokes are lost on them. But for them to be able to “see” how much we care, I thought up a few ways to show them.

First, define. We are in the “why” stage of life with two of our kids. Why is the grass green? Why can’t we fly? We do we have to take a shower? Personally I love giving sarcastic answers, but that won’t fly. Ill just be barrated with more questions. I learned fast simple and honest answers are the best for ASD kids. They want book answers not sarcastic one (and I have some great answers to those questions!)

So- what is Memorial Day?
me·mo·ri·al day
Noun
A day, the last Monday in May, on which those who died in active military service are remembered.
(in the Southern states) Any of various days (esp. the fourth Monday in April) for similar remembrances.

Notice how it specifically says “those who died”. Memorial Day is not the same as Veterans Day, where we celebrate all those who have served; living and passed.

Simply put- Memorial Day we remember those men and women who have died but at one time served in the military. That’s it. Nothing more. No grey.

Next, visual. My kids have amazing memories (it’s a blessing and a curse) but every memory or emotion they do know is tied to a visual cue. Most parents of ASD kids know about visual cues. My kids ABA’s use them constantly.

In order to help kids understand Memorial Day better we need to attach a visual cue to the memory and emotion we want to them experience. Ideas can include volunteering to place flags at military cemetery’s, making cards to donate to nursing homes for Veterans, visiting local VFW halls and bake cookies and brownies to take to local Veterans hospitals. Having the kids involved in making something to give away to a veteran is a great way to connect a memory to Memorial Day.

There are numerous other ways to get your child involved and thinking about the meaning behind Memorial Day. There is a Medal of Honor coloring book that explains the awards and medals. And what kid doesn’t like coloring and cool medals!

Lastly, the most impactful is hearing. Even if you child is nonverbal and non attentive, most still hear the everyday nosies that surround them. This Memorial Day play some of America’s songs. Such as the Star Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful. Hearing the songs, feeling the rhythm and beat can be just as powerful as a memory invoker as baking cookies and being told the encyclopedia definition.

If your child does like story telling and listening to the spoken word, I highly recommend trying to find a veteran who is willing to share their story.

I have two ASD children on the higher end of the spectrum. Most of what I suggested is gear towards their learning level. Please take that into consideration and adjust activities as needed. We want our children to grasp at least a small part of what Memorial Day is about. We don’t want them to end up frustrated for more than what its worth. I hope this gave some of you ideas you can share in your own home. I know today we will be remembering the fallen in ours.