Preliminary results of new research estimate that autism is costing society an overwhelming $126 billion per year (U.S.) – a figure that has more than tripled since 2006, and annually in the U.K. has reached more than £34 billion (equivalent to $54 billion U.S.). The costs of care for an individual with autism affected by intellectual disability through his or her lifespan are $2.3 million in the U.S. and £1.5 million ($2.4 million) in the U.K. The lifetime costs of caring for individuals who are not impacted by intellectual disability are $1.4 million in the U.S. and £917,000 in the U.K. (equivalent to $1.46 million).
Researchers Martin Knapp, Ph.D., of the London School of Economics, and David Mandell, Sc.D., of the University of Pennsylvania, compiled information from recent studies of autism costs from many sources to determine the current cost of autism associated with the previous CDC-reported prevalence that 1:110 children were diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The prevalence has now increased to 1:88 and as high as 1:54 in boys. The cost of autism continues to grow with the rise in prevalence. The research team found that the cost of autism in the U.S. alone is greater than the entire Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 139 countries around the world.
“The need for action has never been more urgent.” said Dr. Joshua Weinstein, CEO & Founder of Shema Kolainu – Hear Our Voices in Brooklyn, NY and ICare4Autism in Jerusalem, Israel “The soaring autism rate is one of our major concerns and one that I have been trying to alarm the world for many years. That is why I am convening the International Autism Conference in August that will take place in Jerusalem”
This research also found that intellectual disability plays a key role in the cost of autism to individuals, families, and society as a whole. The costs of autism per year are nearly twice as high on average for children and adults with intellectual disability than for children and adults without intellectual disability, $2.3 million in the U.S. and £1.5 million in the U.K. ($2.4 million) for those individuals who are impacted by intellectual disability compared with more than $1.4 million in the U.S. and £917,000 ($1.46 million) in the U.K. for those who do not have intellectual disability. The latest CDC report found that in the U.S. the majority (62%) of those with ASDs did not have intellectual disability.
Experts consistently point to early interventions as key to increasing language and IQ scores, and reducing life span costs.
“We have entered a new age of autism, characterized on the one hand by unprecedented incidence, and on the other by advanced research, earlier diagnosis, and progressively more effective intervention.” Dr Weinstein adds.