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Cost of Raising an Autistic Child

Do you consider ASD a primarily childhood disorder? Think again.

Parents of children diagnosed with ASD should consider financial counseling to prepare for the transition from autistic child to autistic adult, the authors of the study suggest. A study in the Archives of Pediatric Medicine estimates the lifetime per capita cost of autism to be $3.2 million.

Data for the study came from existing research and database analysis. Authors concluded that autism in coming years would place enormous financial burdens on the families of autistic children, as well as to society in general.

The authors note that their research is based on the buying value of the U.S. dollar in 2003. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics inflation calculator, the buying value of today’s dollar adds more than 25% to the costs. The buying value of $100,000 in 2003 has the same buying power as $126,177 in 2013.

Besides the direct costs of autism, such as medical care and therapy, the study also measured indirect costs, such as years of production lost by autistic adults who are unable to work.

Certainly, lost working years don’t yield the same impact on family finances as costs paid directly.

But even after eliminating the abstract costs, the direct out-of-pocket expenses are staggering.

Such as:

  • Cost of adult day care: $662,192.
  • Child-care costs through age 22: $74,963.
  • Behavioral therapies: $206,337

featured-twin_toddlersThe tables below break down the expenses by medical and non-medical costs for different stages of life.

“Autism is both economically and emotionally devastating to the children and their families,” Laura Bono, founding board member of the National Autism Association, told a workshop in 2007. “Many families are on the brink of bankruptcy as they struggle to get … the medical attention their children need.”

The National Institute for Medicine hosted the workshop that brought together both researchers and autism advocates in response to increasing rates of autism in the U.S. The workshop focused on non-genetic causes of autism.

The study examining the direct and indirect costs of autism relied on existing research from the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain.

The authors derived cost estimates based on higher- and lower-functioning individuals, as described in the literature. Independent and semi-independent individuals are classified as higher functioning.

Direct Costs Overall*

Age Group Medical Nonmedical Total Per
Capita Cost
3-7 $35,370 $10,805 $46,175
8-12 $6,013 $15,708 $21,721
13-17 $5,014 $13,550 $18,564
18-22 $2,879 $10,720 $13,599
23-27 $1,574 $27,539 $29,113
28-32 $1,454 $23,755 $25,209
33-37 $1,389 $20,492 $21,881
38-42 $1,283 $17,676 $18,959
43-47 $1,440 $15,248 $16,688
48-52 $1,447 $13,152 $14,599
53-57 $1,290 $11,292 $12,582
58-62 $1,218 $9,489 $10,707
63-66 $1,027 $7,908 $8,935
Lifetime costs: $305,956 $978,761 $1,284,717

Direct Medical Costs*

Age Group Physician/
Dental
Drugs CAM**
Therapies
Behavioral
Therapies
Emergency/
Hospital
Home
Health
Travel
3-7 $1,147 $147 $198 $32,501 $828 $467 $81
8-12 $577 $153 $109 $4,033 $768 $303 $70
13-17 $435 $131 $50 $3,479 $591 $267 $60
18-22 $426 $129 $33 $1,254 $852 $132 $52
23-27 $496 $124 $28 $0 $774 $106 $45
28-32 $507 $114 $25 $0 $682 $87 $39
33-37 $547 $98 $21 $0 $598 $93 $33
38-42 $540 $84 $18 $0 $522 $90 $29
43-47 $765 $72 $16 $0 $426 $137 $25
48-52 $845 $61 $14 $0 $352 $154 $21
53-57 $851 $52 $12 $0 $292 $65 $18
58-62 $810 $44 $10 $0 $323 $14 $16
63-66 $632 $34 $9 $0 $301 $39 $14
Lifetime costs: $42,259 $6,180 $2,704 $206,337 $36,235 $9,738 $2,503

Direct Nonmedical Costs*

Age Group Child
Care
Adult
Care
Respite
Care
Home
Revision
Special
Schools
Supported
Work
Other
3-7 $4,636 $0 $1,100 $161 $4,585 $0 $323
8-12 $3,999 $0 $948 $139 $10,343 $0 $278
13-17 $3,450 $0 $818 $120 $8,922 $0 $240
18-22 $2,907 $0 $706 $10 $6,247 $0 $851
23-27 $0 $25,064 $0 $9 $0 $836 $1,630
28-32 $0 $21,620 $0 $8 $0 $721 $1,406
33-37 $0 $18,650 $0 $7 $0 $622 $1,213
38-42 $0 $16,087 $0 $6 $0 $537 $1,046
43-47 $0 $13,877 $0 $5 $0 $463 $903
48-52 $0 $11,970 $0 $4 $0 $399 $778
53-57 $0 $10,326 $0 $4 $0 $291 $672
58-62 $0 $8,907 $0 $3 $0 $0 $579
63-66 $0 $7,423 $0 $3 $0 $0 $483
Lifetime costs: $74,963 $662,192 $17,858 $2,388 $150,483 $19,349 $51,528

 

Tables reproduced from Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, American Medical Association; 2007; 161(4):343

* Average Per Capita Cost Per Age Group

** Abbreviation CAM: complementary and alternative medicine

Costs presented in 2003 dollars. Costs for age 4 years and older are discounted to 2003 dollars using a discount rate of 3%. Life expectancy for men is age 66 years and for women, age 65 years.

 

Works Cited:



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