My Spouse is Deployed, Now What?

children with autism and parents in the military

Caring for a child with special needs can be stressful even with the help of a spouse. But what do you do when your spouse is called up for active duty and deployed halfway around the world? You’re left as the primary caregiver and decision maker, trying to do what is best for everyone.

It’s important to realize that you are not alone and you don’t have to deal with this burden on your own. Take advantage of the support system you have in place and work to build it up even more. Don’t be afraid to ask for and accept help. You may need someone to help you get the kids to and from school, or watch them for a bit until you can get home. Having a family member or close friend attend appointments and meetings can be another set of ears and someone you can think through decisions with. Figuring out treatment plans, scheduling therapy, and determining levels of support in school can be overwhelming. It’s good to have someone by your side that can help you stay calm and focused.

Try to establish a sense of routine while your spouse is deployed. Their absence will already be tough on the kids, but getting them into a routine can make things easier and provide structure. This can also allow you to figure how where and when you might need assistance.

Stay in touch with your spouse as much as possible. They may be able to Skype or email to stay connected and you can update them on what is happening with the family. Your kids will also enjoy being able to talk and share news. Try to include your spouse in decision making as much as possible, especially when it comes to the kids and any special needs. Encourage your children to talk about their feelings and do your best to help them adjust.

Use resources available to you through respite care, the military, medical providers, family, and friends. With a strong support system in place, you can feel more confident in caring for your kids and holding down the fort until your spouse returns.

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