Recently, researchers found that the national cost of supporting children with autism was 61 to 66 billion dollars a year, whereas the costs for autistic adults were about 196 billion dollars a year. What does this data mean? Are autistic individuals destined to keep increasing in costs?
Not so fast! Children on the autism spectrum today have the benefit of a range of therapies, including applied behavioral analysis (ABA) or behavioral therapy. ABA has become more prevalent over the years. The prevailing wisdom is that most adults on the autism spectrum did not receive any ABA therapy. Or, if they did, they did not receive the same intensity of ABA therapy as autistic children receive today.
While research is still being conducted on this topic, there are many strong initial indications that therapy in the early childhood years reduces the costs associated with an older individual on the spectrum. Logically, this makes sense since ABA therapy is helping autistic children reduce their symptoms in a myriad of ways.
While 196 billion dollars is a lot of money, it is likely that this number will dramatically go down, and could very well be lower than the annual cost of children with autism.