People with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) face many challenges. They may struggle to find a job, build friendships, or handle unexpected situations. But can someone with autism join the military? The answer isn’t so straightforward. Let’s take a closer look. When you think of military personnel, you probably imagine physical strength, mental toughness, and loyalty. If a person with autism meets those standards and is willing to make the necessary sacrifices, can they join the armed services? Let’s take a closer look at ASD and joining the military.
Can People With Autism Join The Military?
Many people with autism are often mistaken as being mentally challenged, even when they are not. However, it is important to understand that many people with autism can be extremely intelligent and capable of high school-level classes. For this reason, they should be considered for enlistment in the military.
What Is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a condition that impacts how a person communicates and connects with others. It’s a spectrum condition, meaning it affects each person differently. Symptoms can vary widely, and range from moderate to severe. People with autism may have challenges with social skills, verbal and nonverbal communication, and reading others’ emotions. They may also be hyper or hypo-sensitive to sensory input like noises or touch. People with severe autism may have trouble living alone or holding a job. But many others can live and work independently with the right support. There is no one cause of autism, but genetics and environment both play a role. And it can be diagnosed at any age.
Military Requirements For Joiners
You must meet the physical standards for military service. These include height and weight requirements, vision requirements, and hearing requirements. You must also pass a medical exam that tests your physical fitness and overall health. If you are overweight, you will be required to lose weight before you can join the military.
You must meet the medical standards for military service. These include being free from tuberculosis, HIV, hepatitis B and C, active tuberculosis, syphilis, and other venereal diseases that could affect your ability to fight in a war zone or serve in a combat zone or on another frontline base overseas. You will also have to have no history of drug or alcohol abuse that would affect your ability to serve in the military or on another front-line base overseas.
Criminal Record Check (CR)
If you have ever been arrested or convicted of a crime at any time (even if it was never prosecuted), you will not be allowed addiction, mental illnesses, or conditions that could interfere with your ability to be a good soldier.
You must meet the psychological standards for military service. These include no history of mental illness or any other condition that could interfere with your ability to serve in the military and be a good soldier. You also cannot have any history of drug or alcohol addiction or other substance abuse disorders, including nicotine addiction.
Physical Fitness Test Requirements
The physical fitness test is required for all new recruits and is designed to screen out those who are physically unfit for service in the armed forces. The PFT consists of two events: push-ups and sit-ups (determined by gender). A minimum score on each event is required to pass the PFT; if you do not pass either event, you will not be allowed to enlist in the armed forces regardless of whether you meet all other standards (i.e., height/weight requirements).
Why People With Asd May Not Be Eligible To Join
- They may not have the physical strength and endurance needed to meet the standards of military service.
- They may not be able to handle being away from home and family for long periods of time.
- They may have trouble communicating with others, especially in a group setting. This can make it hard to work with people they don’t know well or to follow orders or instructions given by supervisors or commanding officers.
- They may be too emotionally unstable to handle the stresses of military life, which can include deployment, combat, and other traumatic experiences.
- They may have untreatable, severe, or pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs). These are lifelong conditions that make it hard for a person to learn and function in society. These disorders include special needs such as blindness, deafness, and intellectual disabilities.
- They may be too young to join the military (military service is voluntary). Children under the age of 18 must have their parents’ permission to enlist in the military. If a child younger than 16 with autism is applying for enlistment, he or she must receive written consent from his or her parent or legal guardian.
- They may not be able to handle the physical demands of military training or deployment (much like people with disabilities who cannot meet regular physical fitness standards). it hard for people with PDDs to live independently.
- They may not be able to handle the demands of military life without medication.
- They may not be able to serve in the military because they are already incarcerated, on parole, or on probation for a crime that would prohibit them from serving.
- They may have a medical condition that would make them ineligible for military service, such as a heart condition or asthma, or one that could result in an injury while they are serving if they were deployed overseas or participated in strenuous training like combat training or swimming.
All people have challenges, and the military is no exception. And while ASD can pose challenges, it doesn’t have to stop a person from joining the military. Each case is different, and the severity of your symptoms will determine how well you can meet the standards. You may be able to join the military with accommodations for your autism symptoms.