The Alarmingly High Price of Raising Kids With Autism

boy with autismWhen families make a decision to have children or not, finances often weigh heavy in their decision. They consider things like if one parent can afford to stay home or not, how many years of daycare they may need, and plenty of other financial factors. What many fail to add into the equation, however, is what if that child has autism.

According to recent study, families of children with autism are hit not only emotionally when their child is diagnosed, but they take significant financial blows as well. A new report says families with autistic children earn $18,000 less than those whose children don't. That's a lot of money, and it's primarily due to the mother not being able to work as much or at all

The study showed those with autistic children were 6 percent less likely to be employed, worked seven hours less per week, and they had less than half the annual income than those whose children had no disability. David Mandell, associate director of the Center for Autism Research at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, told Reuters Health, "Mothers are leaving the workforce to cobble this care together for their kids."

It's such a sad statement about the care options available to families facing autism, and it's frightening because the cost of raising a child with autism can be so high. While most of us look forward to the day we pay for what we can of our kids' college, then let them fend for themselves, many parents of children with autism are faced with supporting their children for life. Some estimates say their extra care may cost $3.2 million over a lifetime. I'm sure parents of children with many disabilities face similar challenges.

It's a clear sign that something more has to be done to help families who are sacrificing so much to do what's best for the children they love. We have to find ways to help them and let them help themselves by working, if that's what they choose.

It's not that surprising I guess given the struggles I've heard from friends and others who are trying to navigate services for their autistic children, it's just jolting to see how large the impact of autism is financially ... in addition to the many other ways their lives are forever changed by it.

Are you surprised that families raising children with autism are financially impacted this significantly? If you have a child with autism, how has your work situation been affected?

Image via Lance Neilson/Flickr

a mom's life, autism


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

nonmember avatar Kristina

We are looking forward to a confirmation of Asperger's for NY soon to be 3 grandson. Even at this stage ... it is dramatic.

SynsDoll SynsDoll

The hard part for us is our families lack of understanding. I stay home to deal with all the things are son needs who has autism. But the only thing we ever here from our families is why don't I have a job.

kerimb kerimb

I am a single mom with two autistic boys.   It is really hard to raise them and to have everything they need.  It is ridiculously expensive and devastating when you cant get everything for them!

Katie Atteberry

My son is on the Autism spectrum. He has PDD-NOS which is pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified. It is hard for me to get a job and keep it because right now my son is 5 years old and he needs me for a lot of things. He is still working on talking. He is getting better and can speak a lot better than he could when he was 2 years old. A lot of people can't understand what he telling them. I need to be there for him until he may possibly be more independent and able to express himself better. I am a stay at home mom for this reason.

Marle... Marlene0517

My son is extremely hyper active and he has autism spectrum disorder and I'm a single mother and I'm the full time manager at a local restaurant. I have very little help and support. The last seven years has been so hard. I wish I could just stay home and give him the care focus he needs but that just isnt possible for us. We live in a small town where programs and funding are scarce

Telep... Telephus44

My son is 5 and has high-functioning autism.  If my MIL wasn't willing to watch him, I don't know if I'd be able to work.  He's been kicked out of daycare because they don't want to deal with him (and I can't blame them, they aren't trained for it).

count... countrygirl670

My son isn't autistic, but he is severely impaired physically and cognitively and non-verbal.  The only reason I have been able to keep a job is because my parents retired to be my "nannies."  I literally don't know what I would have done without their daily support, and I'm married!  Its like my son has 2 sets of parents, and dang it- he needs that many. And still, the money drain to get him what he needs is unbelievable.

nonmember avatar Danielle

My son is now 14 yrs old, but I have had to take a few unpaid leaves @ work when he was kicked out of a 5th daycare and "expelled" from kindergarten. He ended up in a specialty school for 2 yrs, and is now back on track , but I am still unable to work a full-time job, but I guess in this recession I'm lucky to keep my 30 hrs a week. To all my fellow ASD mommies and mommies of any special needs children, it does get better, hang in there!

nonmember avatar megan

hi, im a autistic adult myself. im trying to build a sensory coner for myself, and its not easy i get DLA every month but its just under £400 and it has to last all month, and bubble tubes alone to cost £600..... im moderate suvere autistic. and i dont speak much.

Flori... Floridamom96

If your child needs you and you are not a single mother why are you still working?

1-10 of 19 comments 12 Last