Hidden Costs of Autism
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- It’s a disorder that seems to have an impact on the entire family. A new study finds the average household with children with autism not only spends thousands of dollars more in expenses, but also makes less money overall.
The study is the first to measure money in and money out in autistic families. Researchers from the Children’s Institute, a not-for-profit organization affiliated with the University of Rochester, conducted the study. They used data from the National Household Educational Survey on After School Programs and Activities done in 2005. The data included if a child was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, total household income and highest level of education, among other factors.
“We were able to forecast within $80 of what these households, on average, were actually earning,” economist Guillermo Montes, Ph.D., lead study author, was quoted as saying. Researchers report the average actual reported income of autistic families fell short of the American average by more than $6,200. Study authors say that’s a 14 percent loss that can be overwhelming. They suggest it could be due to lack of support making them sacrifice income opportunities.
“Of course, there may be alternative explanations,” Dr. Montes continues. “As more research probes possible genetic links for autism, perhaps we’ll see that the disorder might, to a degree, run in families. That might affect a parent’s employment and income status even more directly than we assume at present. There may also be other barriers to employment that we haven’t considered.”
SOURCE: Pediatrics, 2008; 121:e821-e826
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