Can You Join The Military With Autism?

Yes, people with autism spectrum disorder can join the military, navy, air force, marines, and coast guard.

steven zauderer
Steven Zauderer
September 20, 2023
min read

Can Autistic People Join The Army?

According to the information presented by the US Air Force and other branches, people with Autism Spectrum Disorder aren't forbidden to go into the military.

Can Autistic People Join The Army?

However, it is restricted to people that have a condition that would personally hinder their ability to carry out their duties. This means that people who compromise their duties or training are ineligible.

The US military often relaxes or increasingly restricts people's ability to join. This isn't necessarily the case for anyone on the spectrum. ASD has variable symptoms that range from mild to severe.

Of course, severe symptoms would be easily noticed before someone was to reach out to a recruiter.

But for some high-functioning autistic people, joining is certainly possible. The military is also very challenging, which goes for autistic people already in and soldiers diagnosed with it.

People with autism often show an intense interest in small details which is something that the military teaches during boot camp. The expression is called attention to detail. This specialty comes naturally to many soldiers leaving basic training, and people with ASD also.

Many of the duties given to soldiers allow recruits with autism a good opportunity to do well in the service, or even to make a long-term career after their first four-year term is up.

There are even special programs on some college campuses to help students on the spectrum that are looking into military service. This also applies to enlisted as well.

There are also students attending military academy with mild autism. Military academies, such as West Point, allow soldiers, Airmen, and Marines to go into service as an officer, which receives a different class of ranking than people enlisted.

However, officers are often tasked with many responsibilities. However, in reality, much of what officers do in the US military today revolves around clerical duties, even in some previous and current war zones.

Still, autistic people can succeed in every part of the service given to people with no disabilities whatsoever. Autism isn't a mental disorder.

It should be noted that the military does have problems that anyone with autism should be aware of before going in. The first is the rate of suicides.

While the suicide rate has dropped, about 23 out of every 100,000 soldiers lost their lives to suicide. This is often due to personal issues involving family, spouses, relationships, and family.

Certain autistic people, even in mild cases, could be too sensitive to handle the high stresses that come with the service. Furthermore, the autistic population is at a higher risk of suicide than the general population. At some point, suicidal thoughts may exacerbate easier someone without autism.

For those that are in, autistic people work in areas that are demanding and complex—some study satellite images, especially in the Air Force. Decoding could be taught, even in some college programs before joining.

The work that autistic people do is challenging but crucial to the safety of the United States and its citizens. In one program that's provided by people on the spectrum, the young adults in it were considered to be the best that a recruiter had ever worked with.

Given that those with ASD have taken part in military-related programs shows that they can be as skilled as anyone else.

Can You Join The Navy If You Have Autism?

Based on the level of awareness that someone has, an autistic person can join the US Navy.

Can You Join The Navy If You Have Autism?

The US Navy primarily deals with sea-bearing duties, though there are some Seamen assigned to work that takes place entirely on the ground. For autistic people that are seasick yet want to go to the Navy, they won't necessarily have to go on any Navy vessel during their time serving.

Of course, almost all military personnel will at some point have to fly. Many military jobs require that soldiers work in places that are uncomfortable, and loud, and this can cause sensory overload in someone with ASD.

As for the Navy, it's the same as other branches when applied to an autistic hopeful.

One typically needs a waiver form from a psychiatrist or physician showing that their autism won't impede their ability to work in a hard but exciting environment.

Still, there's doubt as to whether some would even qualify to receive the potential for a waiver in the first place. But without it, someone that's diagnosed will probably not get into the Navy.

This is because of retention issues currently happening in every branch of service. Retention is often due to a larger portion of Americans being unable to get in, either from drug abuse, alcoholism, various illnesses, and unhealthy lifestyles.

In some cases, the Armed Forces have been incentivized to lower their standards to allow more people in. Autism isn't related to any of these since a waiver is needed only in high-functioning individuals.

The level of retention in the US Navy is over less than 10%, so the chances of people with it doing well are high. However, this level of retention is different for Navy reservists.

Speaking of which, a reservist career would also pan out nicely for some with autism, in the Navy and other branches.

Reservists do deploy, yet aren't on active duty and can work in the service while staying nearby to family and relatives. Parents with an autistic adult child would be able to see them as if they were a civilian, and the number of hours worked is minimal compared to active duty.

Can You Join The Air Force If You Have Autism?

The Air Force will also take in autistic people, though the entrance exam is a bit more challenging than the rest of the branches. Many of the duties that Airmen partake in mandate a good understanding of mathematics, information technology, and logistics.

Can You Join The Air Force If You Have Autism?

The Air Force also needs people that can work in groups, socialize well, and faithfully follow orders without any disruptions.

Can You Join The Marines If You Have Autism?

Yes, you can join the marines if you have autism as long as your symptoms don’t interfere.

Can You Join The Marines If You Have Autism?

The Marine Corps is famously known for having a more physically and mentally demanding boot camp than all other branches of the Armed Forces. People with autism have made it through Parris Island and Camp Pendleton before.

Can You Join The Coast Guard If You Have Autism?

The Coast Guard isn't a branch under the Department of Defence, but rather the Department of Homeland Security. A person with autism wanting to join can do so provided they return a waiver showing the military service won't negatively impact them.

Can You Join The Coast Guard If You Have Autism?

Most people in the Coast Guard work within the United States and in an environment and culture that's familiar to them, whereby this branch may interest some on the spectrum from such attributes.

Final Thoughts

Autism isn't a mental disorder but rather a behavioral condition that is capable of being controlled by the people diagnosed with it.

This sometimes takes months or even years of therapy, particularly in small children. But treatment can mitigate symptoms to where they seem to disappear altogether. High-functioning autistic people can lead lives just the same as anyone else, making joining the military an achievable thing.

steven zauderer

CEO of CrossRiverTherapy - a national ABA therapy company based in the USA.

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