Exceptional Needs/Exceptional Children

As a parent, what do you do when you know something is not ‘right’ with your child and no one seems to listen to you?  Being a mom can be challenging and made even more so with the constant moves a military family has to make.  However, find out what Austin Carrigg and how she finally was heard and has become an advocate for exceptional needs and exceptional children.



Austin Carrigg is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Exceptional Families of the Military (EFM) and the Founder of The Youth and Children’s Advocacy Network (THEYCAN).  She is also the Down syndrome ambassador at Ketotic Hypoglycemia International and has spent the last seven years tirelessly advocating on behalf of children, youth, and families. Her experiences span complex medical needs, adoption, surrogacy, military life, and finding accessibility in an inaccessible world.

In 2019 Austin was named a board member of Ketotic Hypoglycemia International, subsequently publishing Towards enhanced
understanding of idiopathic ketotic hypoglycemia: a literature review and introduction of the patient organization, Ketotic Hypoglycemia International
 in Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases, as well as Ketotic hypoglycemia in patients with Down syndrome, in the Journal of Inherited Metabolic Disease.

In 2020 Austin Founded Exceptional Families of the Military (EFM) after testifying before the House Armed Service Committee in an effort to unite the voices of military families like hers and raise their voices collectively to incite change. Exceptional Families of the Military represents more than 130,000 families with a mission to connect military families with Disabilities, Special Healthcare Needs, or additional educational needs from all branches of the service in order to navigate within the Exceptional Family Member Programs and identify areas
of improvement that affects the families they represent. Using the data, they collect while simultaneously assisting families, they endeavor to create long-lasting systematic changes in the laws and regulations that affect EFMP families.

2017-2018 Austin was the Vice President and a founding board member of Little Lobbyists, an organization whose vision is to ensure that all children with complex medical needs have access to the health care, education, and community inclusion they need to thrive. The Little Lobbyists share healthcare stories of children from across the country with their members of congress.
Austin has been nominated as Military spouse of the year for her work with the Little Lobbyists, the Tricare For Kids coalition, and her individual work with military families across the country.  Austin was a 2018 Heroes at Home Awardee and was recognized by Virginia Governor, Ralph Northam, for her work supporting military families.


Discussion Points/Time Stamps:

  • Who is Austin Carrigg 2:08
  • Becoming a mom of an exceptional family 3:28
  • Military life/insurance/doctors 4:48
  • The roller coaster begins 7:34
  • Downs Syndrome/ketotic hypoglycemia 9:02
  • Learning and Growing 12:48
  • It’s a Family Affair 17:50
  • The Advocate 18:04
  • A Support System20:10
  • Symptoms 23:26




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