IEI Insight: Employment Support is Good Medicine for Autistic Individuals

This week’s IEI Insight is provided by Joe Kreienkamp, a Gail Werner-Robertson Fellow and co-author of a forthcoming paper on autism spectrum disorders and employment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identify autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States. Affecting 1 in 42 males and 1 in 189 females, ASD is five times more prevalent in boys than girls. The “developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges” can be problematic for individuals and their families.

There are both opportunity costs and financial costs of supporting an autistic individual. In a study conducted by JAMA Pediatrics, the national cost of supporting children with ASD was $61 billion dollars. For adults, the cost was $175 billion per year. As one study indicated, “the cost of supporting an individual with an ASD and intellectual disability during his or her lifespan was $2.4 million in the United States. The cost of supporting an individual with an ASD without intellectual disability was $1.4 million in the United States.” Furthermore, most families who support an autistic child must forfeit one parent’s income to support the child.

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