In a study published yesterday in the JAMA Pediatrics journal, we learned that autism is one of the costliest disabilities: $2.4 million across the lifespan if the person also has intellectual disabilities. Not surprising is that 79% of that cost is due to services such as medical care, home health care, special education and after school care. What is surprising is that 9% is due to wages that caregivers give up to care for a family member with autism. Overwhelming? Yes, but it serves as a call to action for all of us to bring down the cost of autism for families and society.
- Knowing that early identification leads to better outcomes in our children we need to educate our legislators about the importance of funding early intervention programs.
- Parents often decrease their working hours because of the difficulty in securing quality childcare. Encourage businesses to offer family friendly workplace policies, which might enable more parents to stay working.
- Advocate for businesses to hire individuals with autism and intellectual disabilities like Shannon Nash did by launching the Autism Job Board website. It’s a win-win situation for both the employer and individual.
- Expand residential living options for adults with ASD. Too often I hear from parents that their son or daughter is living in their basement unable to afford an apartment but wanting to live independently. Their ongoing question is, “what can we do?”
I believe that we need a comprehensive, strategic plan to address these critical issues. I certainly don’t have all the answers to this problem that is facing society. I would like to hear from you on what do you think we could do.