Thursday, June 12, 2014

Study Finds Substantial Costs Associated With Caring for People With ASD

It takes millions of dollars to support people with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) throughout their lives, according to a new study published online in JAMA Pediatrics this week. A literature review of studies of ASD patients and their families in the United States and the United Kingdom found that the lifetime cost for someone with the disorder but without intellectual disability was $1.4 million per person in both countries. For those with intellectual disability, the costs were significantly higher: $2.4 million per person in the U.S. and $2.2 million in the U.K., said Ariane Buescher, M.Sc., of the London School of Economics and Political Science, David Mandell, Sc.D., of the Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research at the University of Pennsylvania, and colleagues.

“These costs are much higher than previously suggested,” the researchers noted. Costs were also surprisingly similar in the two countries, despite the differences between their health care systems. Direct nonmedical costs, such as for special education, and indirect costs, such as for lost parental productivity, are the largest contributors to total costs in both countries across all age groups. For adults with ASD, the highest costs came from residential care or supportive-living accommodations and from loss of individual productivity. Other direct medical costs are higher, too, especially among adults.

In a related editorial, Paul Shattuck, Ph.D., and Ann Roux, M.P.H., praise the study for breaking new ground and called for viewing costs as investments and then measuring long-term outcomes across the lifespan.

To read more in Psychiatric News about autism across the lifespan, see the articles, "Teens, Adults With Autism Need More Support" and "Adult ASD Knowledge Expands Rapidly." For more information about ASD, see American Psychiatric Publishing's Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

(Image: Evlakhov Valeriy/


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