A new study reveals the lifetime cost of supporting someone with autism spectrum disorder: $2.4 million in the United States, $2.2 million in the United Kingdom.
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The study was carried out by researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York.
They found that the high costs associated with autism spectrum disorders (or ASDs) started at a young age, with autistic children receiving special (and often expensive) education. The study also factored in parents’ lost productivity, which is often very high for parents of autistic children.
Researchers found that when children with autism spectrum disorder become adults the highest costs are associated with residential care and their own lost productivity. In other words, in many cases adults with autism must be supported by their family and / or the state.
The University of Rochester Medical Center researchers also examined the lifetime costs of supporting a person with an intellectual disability. The total cost there: $1.4 million in both the US and UK.
Those behind the study say that these are the highest cost estimates yet, primarily because previous studies have not examined the impact of lost productivity.
David Mandell, the study’s senior author and the director of the Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research at the University of Pennsylvania, says he hopes the report will help health professionals “be more effective and more efficient about service delivery” for people with an ASD or intellectual disability.
“This is the case where being consistent with our values as a society and lowering costs work completely hand in hand,” Mandell said.