Autism Pilot Extended

Autism Pilot Extended

Read that title and tell me what it means to you. (Backstory: it was a link off the front page of the Navy Times.)

My guess: that some naval pilot, afflicted with autism (is afflicted the proper term?) got extended somewhere. Like the USS Ronald Reagan. I say, kudos to the airdale. Landing on carriers and being autistic. That is overcoming some odds. But no. The real story:

The Pentagon announced Tuesday it is extending a pilot program that provides autism treatment to the children of service members.

Tricare Management Activity will extend the Enhanced Access to Autism Services demonstration program through March 2014, according to a news release.

The initiative allows beneficiaries — qualifying offspring of active-duty personnel — to receive 10 hours a week of applied behavioral analysis, or ABA, a treatment that helps autistic youngsters learn new skills and improve communications.

The program continuation is good news for the families of the estimated 20,000 autistic military children.

Not as flashy. But still. I’m not making fun of autistic folks by worrying about them landing on carriers. Hell, I couldn’t myself. They call it a controlled crash landing. I call it unbelievable skill meeting sheer bravery.

American Idol in San Diego on the Navy’s USS Midway

As a Navy guy, I have had the honor and privilege of serving in many retirements. I’ve MC’d ‘em, been a flag boy, award boy, retirement officer. . . you name it.

The last retirement I served in was aboard the USS Midway. We were in Service Dress Blues (SBDs.) And the retirement was set for 10 or 11 o’clock. (1000 or 1100 for you Navy salts.) Imagine a gray flight deck and us in SDBs. Hot, yes. I was the awards boy, passing the guest of honor, an Admiral, the retiring Captain’s awards, plaques, and letters. And then the Admiral presented them.

We sweated our way through it. When I heard that American Idol was filming on the Midway, the same aircraft carrier moored downtown, I wondered if it was going to be as hot. I checked the date when it had been shot (October), so I doubt it. You contestants really lucked out.

Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson, and Ryan Seacrest on the USS Midway, American Idol and the Navy

Apparently, the Navy episode is airing Sunday, right after the 49ers whup up the Giants:

This week’s return of America’s favorite singing competition will bring a new twist: A special primetime episode will air after Sunday’s NFC Championship game (San Francisco 49ers vs. the New York Giants) on Fox-TV.

The “Idol” episode (featuring auditions from the USS Midway air craft carrier in San Diego) is expected to air from 10-11 p.m. . .

According to media reports, an estimated 9,000 hopefuls auditioned at Petco Park last July, then some were invited back to sing in front of “Idol” judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler in October on the USS Midway.

Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Seacrest, and Randy Jackson with another aircraft carrier (the USS Ronald Reagan, CVN-76) in the background