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Raising an Autistic Child: Coping With the Costs

A recent study estimates the lifetime cost of caring for a child with autism at $1.4 million. For parents, there is no easy solution.

Linda Mercier started to notice something wrong with her son Sam when he was around two years old. Sam was becoming withdrawn, not interacting or playing with other kids and focused on specific tasks like lining up his toys. Eventually Sam was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD.

This was the beginning of a very long road, one that involves an ample amount of effort, time and money. Mercier has estimated hundreds of thousands of dollars on tutors, therapists and lost wages.

Although, it is pricey, Sam is now a high-functioning, and in many respects a completely normal 13-year-old. The downside: The price tag to get to this point has been massive.

A new study in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics has estimated the total lifetime cost of support for an individual with an ASD at a shocking $1.4 million, U.S. Dollars. If there is also intellectual disability, the total will increase even more, to $2.4 million.

These costs will typically include a lifetime of special education programs, medical care and lost wages. In a lot of cases parents may even quit their jobs to help their child full-time.

“Only a parent of a child with special needs can ever understand the struggles, and the  financial commitment, of raising and recovering an Autistic child. It’s an endless battle and  an expensive one.”

After the study was conducted, Dr. David Mandell, director of the Center for Mental Health  Policy and Services Research at the University of Pennsylvania said “I was really surprised.  The old estimates were from 8 or 9 years ago, and at first I was skeptical they needed  updating. What we found was shocking and it creates a huge hit on families.”


For Linda Mercier, the ongoing costs hit her family budget every single day. It meant cutting back wherever possible and working two jobs. But it was well worth it since Sam is doing great.

“I would tell other parents of special-needs children that there is hope. It can get a lot better, and it does. But it takes a whole lot of money to get there.”

If you are in a situation like Linda and need help preparing for future costs, let us help! At Vincent J. Russo & Associates, P.C. we understand how difficult it may be to financially plan for your child with Special Needs. The good thing is you are not on your own. Our dedicated and highly experienced attorneys are here to help you through the stressful times. If you have any questions about Special Needs Planning, do not hesitate to contact us!


By Daniel Mayper – Guest Blogger 

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