Yearly Care for an Autistic Child Costs $17,000: Study

By Vishakha Sonawane, Parent Herald February 11, 09:26 am

It takes an average of $17,000 every year to take care of an autistic child with the school systems footing a major part of the bill, a latest study states.

Researchers found that the cost of care of autistic children is $3,000 extra compared to children without the condition. However, most of the expenses were not for medical treatment but for 'non-health care' a child with autism gets.

For the study, the researchers collected data from two national surveys. One survey asked parents to provide information on non-medical services that their autistic children needed. The data collected information from about 246 families who had a child suffering from autism ranging from mild to severe. The researchers also had information on 19,000 families that did not have any autistic children.

Lead researcher, Tara Lavelle from the RAND Corporation, a non-profit research group, said that the 'non-health care' cost an average of $14,000 per year, this includes roughly 60 percent of the total cost of special education. Rest was for therapy sessions and childcare.

"The societal cost is enormous," said Michael Rosanoff, associate director of public health research and scientific review for Autism Speaks.

The study findings also revealed that parents of autistic children did not have out-of-pocket costs compared to those with normal children. The researchers explained that the average out-of-pocket costs that parents spend on their children regardless of an autism diagnosis might be same because of insurance reform. Insurance companies now cover more treatments for children with developmental conditions.

"This study could suggest that autism insurance reform is working," said Rosanoff,  according to WebMD.

The findings were published in Pediatrics.

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