When Marine 1st Sgt. J. Thomas Russo and his wife found out that their daughter was autistic, their life changed forever. Military life is hard enough as it is on families and adding a disabled child to the mix made it even more so. But through the help and resources of the Marine Corps’ Exceptional Family Member Program, the Russo’s weathered the storm and their daughter Giuliana has become the light of their world.
Dealing with the stresses, uncertainties and constant changes of military life isn’t easy for Marine families. That difficulty is only compounded for those families who have an exceptional needs family member.
When Jennifer Russo and 1st Sgt. J. Thomas Russo first found out their 22-month-old daughter Giuliana was autistic, they were devastated. In the beginning, Jennifer thought Giuliana’s behavior was normal for a toddler of her age. It wasn’t until after her husband watched a television special about autism that red flags went up. The diagnosis changed everything — and the Russos were at a loss of what to do next.
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