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Estimating the costs of autism on a family

Estimating the costs of autism on a family

Every child has certain needs, and children with autism may require more care, support, and services than those without. This can lead to additional expenses for parents to take into consideration, and this can be a source of stress and concern for moms and dads of children with autism. 

However, the more you know about the costs of living with autism, the more prepared you will be to handle those costs and find aids and support systems to assist you. In this guide, we’ll take a look at some of the different costs that families may have to bear when a child has autism, as well as methods to help cover those costs.

Typical costs related to autism your family may face

It's important to remember that every child with autism is different. They have different needs and challenges, which can result in very different situations and costs for their families. For this reason, it's impossible to provide an accurate estimation of how much you may need to spend to provide care for your child. 

This list will cover some of the most common costs that families often need to cover, including:

  • Insurance
  • Therapy
  • Equipment
  • Activities 
  • Education
  • Missed opportunities

Insurance costs related to autism

Children and adults with autism typically require access to a range of healthcare services and treatments, such as ABA therapy. A robust health insurance plan is therefore a necessity for many families. Thanks to recent laws, health insurance companies cannot limit or deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions, such as autism, but comprehensive plans may have higher premiums for individuals with autism.

Cost - The cost of insurance plans varies from state to state and provider to provider, but you will pay more, on average, for coverage connected to autism.

Therapy costs for children with autism

Various kinds of therapy may be used to treat individuals with autism. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, for example, is regarded as one of the most promising and effective methods to teach children with autism key social skills and behaviors. Insurance plans can cover some of these costs, but you may have to pay some of the fees yourself. 

Cost - Reports suggest that parents can spend over $20,000 a year on intensive therapy for their children with autism.

Equipment costs related to autism

Children with autism may experience lifestyle improvements and find it easier to learn certain things with the help of specialized pieces of equipment. This can include:

  • Sensory mats
  • Special toys
  • Tech devices like iPads
  • Accessories like noise-canceling headphones

Cost - Individually, these items may not always have high prices, but costs can add up over the months and years.

Activities costs for children with autism

Children with autism can also benefit from getting involved with certain special activities. This might include summer camps, after-school activities, clubs, and groups where they can interact with other children that may or may not have autism, too. This can help with social development and learning. 

Cost - The costs of these outings and activities may add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars over the course of a typical year.

Education costs for children with autism

Parents always want the best for their children, and many parents want to give their kids with autism the best chance of educational development and success in life. For this reason, parents may wish to enroll their children in private schools or special academic centers for children with autism or other special needs. 

Cost - The cost of private schools for autism can exceed $20,000 per year, with some reaching up to $50,000 per year.

Costs of missed opportunities related to autism 

A lot of research suggests that missed opportunities are actually one of the biggest costs that families face when it comes to children with autism. This term applies to career opportunities like jobs, promotions, and extra working hours that parents may have to reject in order to be more present for their children. 

Cost - It can be difficult to provide an estimation for how much money is lost through these missed opportunities, as it varies enormously from case to case.

Total costs for living with autism

Ultimately, the total cost a family will spend on autism-related items and services will vary depending on a wide range of factors. Those that fully invest in the best private schools, activities, equipment, and intensive therapy can expect to spend tens of thousands of dollars per year. 

Other families may choose to eschew certain items on the list, such as camps and activities or private schools. This can drastically reduce the amount needed to pay, but certain expenses, like insurance and therapy, are effectively unavoidable. What's more, the cost of missed opportunities cannot be underestimated and is very difficult to quantify.

One thing that has proven is that investment in children with autism from an early age will almost always result in lower costs later in life. In other words, spending money on therapy for young children with autism may cost a lot to begin with, but expenses should decrease as the years go by as the child develops.

Financial assistance for families living with autism

Fortunately for families and parents worried about the costs of living with autism, there are a variety of aids and funding sources that can be obtained to ease the financial burden. 

Here are just some of the ways in which you can get financial assistance to lower your expenses:

  • Insurance - Modern health insurance plans cover a wide range of autism-related health services, including ABA therapy, and insurance providers cannot discriminate against individuals with autism.
  • Medicaid - Medicaid also covers the costs of various autism-related services, from therapy to prescription medications. This can be an important source of financial aid for low-income households.
  • Grants - Many states provide grants to help with covering the costs of things like ABA therapy for families that have children with autism. Consult your state’s relevant authorities to find out more.
  • Schools - Local school systems are obligated to take action to help all students, including those with disabilities, to study in the best possible conditions. Many schools are therefore able to help out with covering ABA therapy costs for children with autism.
  • Scholarships and discounted services - A lot of clinics and therapy centers also have plans in place to aid families with low incomes. They may be able to provide scholarships or discounted services, giving your child ABA therapy at a low price or even for free.

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