Posted May 21, 2024

Morgan Moore
Morgan Moore (Photo Provided)

My involvement with the autism community began as an assistant director of education supporting the educational needs of autistic children. Being a military spouse gave me the opportunity to enjoy volunteering with the United Service Organizations, the USO, and the U.S. Army Soldier and Family Readiness Group. These organizations helped me understand the unique needs of Service Members and their Families.

My roles have shifted over the years. I am a stay-at-home mom, and I am working to further my education. I returned to school with an interest in neurodevelopmental disabilities and studied to better understand myself and my children. My areas of interest include neuroscience, social work, education, and leadership in neurodevelopmental disability programs. These interests help me as a parent, professional, and advocate.

As I balance the responsibilities of parenting young children, returning to college and my Service Member frequently deployed, leaving home more frequently than he was present posed its own set of difficulties, particularly those stemming from our distance from a military installation. I received support from the U.S. Army Exceptional Family Member Program, which provided amazing early intervention support and a supportive team. Amongst the challenges, I strive to approach this season of life with joy, compassion, and a lot of humor. I stay grounded with walks through the countryside and the constant feedback from my children throughout the day that reminds me to stay humble.

I learned about the mission of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs’ Autism Research Program and was excited to expand my support of the autism community. In this space, I wanted to balance different approaches to autism and to meet individuals where they are on their journeys. I hoped to provide a safe place where they can find their footing, especially military Families who may be far from family support networks and navigating the available programs.

However, autism is a part of my everyday life. It is a lens in which we experience the world, which I think is like how being in a military Family is not just a career, but a lifestyle. To better support my children, I homeschool to address learning differences, while taking them to medical and therapy appointments. My vocabulary has changed as I have learned better strategies to support autistic individuals with sensory supports, transitions, and co-occurring diagnoses. I have also learned to advocate for myself and my children in dynamic settings to promote acceptance and personal growth opportunities for autistic individuals.

Professionally, I support neurodivergent children and adults. I provide counseling and support services for families navigating effective parenting strategies, as well as support autistic adults in understanding their diagnoses and gaining independence. Given my belief in holistic approaches, I frequently collaborate across disciplines to provide comprehensive support for my clients. I seize every opportunity to advocate for them and deepen my understanding of research and strategies, ultimately striving to promote healthy outcomes and achieve their goals. Having the opportunity to do research at a university and participate in neurodevelopmental leadership programs, I am able to connect with resources, programs, and organizations that create more openings for advocacy and awareness. I enjoy advocating at all levels, as well as empowering autistic individuals to advocate for themselves.

My experience since my first ARP review process in 2022 has been incredibly welcoming and educational. I have enjoyed challenging myself, staying informed of current research, and continuing to advocate on behalf of the diverse perspectives within the autism community.

Throughout the year, I spend my time doing outreach and pouring over autism research, so that I can better advocate on behalf of my clients in their personal, educational, and community environments. I feel so fortunate that I can continue this work, and I hope to be part of this mission for years to come. My unique understanding of military life as a daughter of two Veterans and almost two decades with my Service Member helps me to shine a light on neurodevelopmental disabilities in the military community.

Thank you to the CMDRP’s Autism Research Program for this exceptional opportunity to highlight the voices, stories, and perspectives within the autism community.

The views, opinions, and/or findings contained in this paper are those of the author(s) and should not be construed as an official Department of Defense position, policy or decision.

Last updated Wednesday, May 22, 2024