Today’s economy continues to impact America’s middle class families, but families who have a child with autism are impacted more significantly by our current economy. Not only is having a child with autism physically and emotionally challenging, it can be fiscally challenging for parents as well. The additional expenditures parents face when they have a child with autism can quickly turn a middle-income family into a family living below the poverty line, and poverty continues to grow among families who have a child with this disorder. According to the CDC, approximately 1 in 68 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, which means the cost of autism is a growing problem that will continue to affect families financially, potentially affecting compliance to care and the wellbeing of children who require expensive therapies to thrive.
The Staggering Cost of Autism
In 2013, CNN Money reported that the average of raising a child in the United States was more than $241,000. However, new studies have shown that comparatively, the cost of supporting a child with autism is staggering. It’s estimated that the costs associated with autism can be as high as $2.4 million, according to a study recently published in JAMA Pediatrics. While the cost is somewhat lower for children who have no intellectual disabilities along with autism spectrum disorder, the cost is still estimated at $1.4 million.
Typical Costs for Children with Autism
Why are parents potentially spending more than $2 million on a child with autism? Autism spectrum disorder brings with it many costs, and just a few of the typical costs parents face include:
Loss of a Parent’s Income
Since children with autism require around-the-clock stimulation and care, this often results in one parent staying at home with the child instead of working. This also leaves one parent with the financial burden of earning enough money to not only support the entire family, but to deal with the child’s cost of care.
Specialized activities with other children who have autism spectrum disorder, and activities, such as swimming lessons, social events, and special camps can help children with autism learn how to function in non-autistic environments. The only problem – these activities are extremely expensive, but they are so imperative for the child’s social development.
Lack of Healthcare Coverage
It’s common for health insurance plans to refuse to pay for behavioral-related therapy and other autism treatments, considering these treatments to be educational instead of medical treatments. When coverage is denied, parents are left paying these treatment costs out of their own pocked. For example, emotional and occupational therapy sessions can cost $150 per session, and children may require multiple visits each week, leaving parents with a huge bill if they’re going to get their child the help they need.
Children with autism often need special schooling, since they need different instruction and learning environments. Parents may need to spend thousands of dollars each year on specialty teachers, tutors, and schools.
Most children with autism require special equipment for learning, such as iPads, which enable children to learn, socialize, and relate to the world in an environment that is non-confrontational. Unfortunately, this equipment can cost hundreds of dollars. Even a basic iPad can cost more than $500.
Budget Friendly Products and Tools for Children with Autism
With the high cost of autism, many families find it difficult to afford therapy or the products and tools required to continue therapy at home. Here’s a closer look at some effective, budget friendly products and tools therapists and home health aides can recommend to the parents of children with autism.
Noise Reduction Earmuffs
Children who have an auditory sensitivity or those on an ASD sensory diet can benefit from noise reduction earmuffs, which provide shelter when children are dealing with a sensory storm. They come with a noise reduction rating of 27dB, yet they still allow kids to hear a conversation.
Swaddling is used on babies for its calming effect, and weighted blankets offer children with autism a similar feeling of comfort and calm. Weighted blankets are effective for calming meltdowns and for helping children fall asleep.
Gripcase for iPad
Many apps have been developed with children with autism in mind, helping them to improve communication, cognitive, and motor skills. This makes iPads an excellent investment, since they offer a touchscreen navigation and portability that just isn’t provided by traditional desktops. Since iPads are a hefty investment, the Gripcase for iPad is a reasonably priced investment that improves portability, handling, and protection for the iPad, whether it’s used at home or at school.
Inflatable Pea Pod
Inflatable pea pods offer a cocooning effect and deep, even pressure for children on the autism spectrum, which can help fulfill sensory needs and calm their core. These pods offer a child-initiated calmer that is affordable for parents of children who require deep pressure.
Weighted Stuffed Animals
Stuffed animals can offer a soothing effect during multiple activities, and the weighted feel of weighted stuffed animals can offer sensory deep pressure while still being soft and cuddly. They can often be used to help sooth or even enable children with autism focus.
Photo Conversation Cards
Many children with autism have difficulty with oral language skills and the nuances that come with social interactions. Photo conversation cards prove helpful by introducing communication and social skills stories so children can talk about unique social situations and potential reactions and actions of individuals involved.
Watchminder3 Programmable Reminder Watch
Designed like a sports watch, the Watchminder3 Programmable Reminder Watch allows children with autism to easily keep track of their tasks, manage medication schedules, and reinforces positive behaviors independently. Since the watch is discrete, kids are more likely to wear them.