Disease Burden

Burden of Autism: $236 billion

Autism (and autism spectrum disorder (ASD)) and autism are disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.  CDC identified about 1 in 68 American children as on the autism spectrum.

One question is, how much does it cost to take care of an austistic child?  A recent study finds that:

…the lifetime cost of being diagnosed with autism in the United States is somewhere between $1.43 million and $2.44 million.

The figure at the low end of the range is for people on the autism spectrum who don’t have intellectual disabilities. The higher tally is for people who do, according to a study published Monday by the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

These costs include not only special education for the children, but also parents’ lost productivity at work to care for the child. For adults, the largest costs include additionally living expenses for housing staffed with medical personnel, medical expenses and the lost productivity on the job.

What is the total cost of autism in the US? Nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars.

The study authors relied on estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to estimate that there are 3,540,909 Americans with some form of autism. Assuming that 40% of them have an intellectual disability, the total cost of autism in the U.S. is on the order of $236 billion per year.


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