Ever wondered how much it costs someone to provide care for an individual with autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, over the person's lifetime? According to a new study, that number could be over $2 million dollars.
The study conducted by Autism Speaks, an advocacy organization in the U.S., said that people can expect to spend between $1.4 million and $2.4 million to support a person with autism in the U.S. and the UK.
“These costs are much higher than previously suggested,” the researchers said. “There is also an urgent need for a better understanding of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of interventions and support arrangements that address the needs and respond to the preferences of individuals with ASDs and their families.”
According to the study, published on Monday by the journal JAMA Pediatrics, the highest proportion of costs while caring for children with autism was linked to special education services and the loss of earnings and productivity incurred by a parent. On the other hand, the maximum costs incurred while supporting adult individuals diagnosed with autism are related to residential care, assisted living facilities and individual productivity loss.
“ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder marked by impaired social ability, especially communication, and repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities,” the statement said. “The disorders can be associated with significant functional impairment and result in high financial costs for families.”
The study was based on estimates provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which said that there are more than 3.5 million Americans with some form of autism. With an assumption that 40 percent of them have an intellectual disability, the total cost of autism in the U.S. could touch $236 billion a year, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The researchers, led by Ariane V.S. Buescher of the London School of Economics and Political Science, said that the study provides them with “the most comprehensive estimates to date of the financial costs of ASDs in the United States and the United Kingdom.”