How autism can cost families millions
As the rate of reported cases rises, the expense of providing care -- sometimes for a lifetime -- is becoming staggering.
According to data from the Autism Society, the annual cost to society from the illness is $137 billion, greater than the state budget of California and more that twice the market capitalization of General Motors (GM -0.35%), North America's largest automaker.
No less overwhelming is the cost to individuals and families caring for a person with autism. The Autism Society cites estimates of $3.2 million for the lifetime costs of such care. Behavioral therapies for children can cost $40,000 to $50,000 per year. Caring for an adult with autism in a supported residential setting can cost $50,000 to $100,000 per year.
The costs can be such a burden that parents have known to move to states where children on the autism spectrum get better benefits for care. Parents must often pay for services out of their own pockets because what schools provide is inadequate. Increased emphasis on early detection is no doubt costing taxpayers more money, but it's not clear exactly how much.