$2.4 million per person    DSC_0528

Bloomberg.com shared research results last from the University of Pennsylvania and the London School of Economics and Political Science that look beyond age 18. Their findings confirm other research that lifetime costs for people on the Autism Spectrum can exceed over $2 million during the course of a lifetime. The majority of the costs are experienced in adult life.      

Special Services and Unemployment

In the U.S., most of these costs were for services such as special education and residential care, while in the U.K. it was for services and lost employment by people with autism, according to the research paper. 

“While most of the cost is born by government in the form of special education, it’s also true that families bear costs as well,” said Paul Shattuck, who wrote an accompanying editorial. More studies are needed of adults with autism and better ways to join with businesses to hire more adults with special needs, Shattuck, an associate professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia, said in a telephone interview.

Total Costs are Eye Popping

The cost per year in the US is for children on the Autism Spectrum  are estimated to be $61 to $66 billion. The cost for adults with Autism is estimated to be 175 billion to $196 billion. With improved diagnostic tools, the costs may go up even further. Some of these problems can be ameliorated through early diagnosis and behavioral therapies designed to improve learning, communication and social skills. FOCUS Center for Autism offers these services. There are others doing the same, but there is not nearly enough services available to cover the growing need. More funding is needed to provide supports for children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders. 

Rep. Esty pictured with representatives from the FOCUS Center for Autism in Canton

Rep. Esty pictured with representatives from the FOCUS Center for Autism in Canton

There may be Relief

Connecticut Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (5th District) is urging Congress to pass the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support Act (Autism CARES Act). In a letter to FOCUS Center for Autism Director Donna Swanson Esty says, “Talking with these families and hearing children and teens advocate for the services they need was empowering and inspired me to become more actively involved in the issue.” The act would  provide resources to continue research, increase awareness, and help improve the quality of life for our children and families.

The research was published in JAMA Pediatrics. Funding for the research was provided by Autism Speaks.