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To describe the age-specific and lifetime incremental societal costs of autism in
the United States.
Estimates of use and costs of direct medical and nonmedical care were obtained from
a literature review and database analysis. A human capital approach was used to estimate
lost productivity. These costs were projected across the life span, and discounted
incremental age-specific costs were computed.
Hypothetical incident autism cohort born in 2000 and diagnosed in 2003.
Discounted per capita incremental societal costs.
The lifetime per capita incremental societal cost of autism is $3.2 million. Lost
productivity and adult care are the largest components of costs. The distribution
of costs over the life span varies by cost category.
Although autism is typically thought of as a disorder of childhood, its costs can
be felt well into adulthood. The substantial costs resulting from adult care and lost
productivity of both individuals with autism and their parents have important implications
for those aging members of the baby boom generation approaching retirement, including
large financial burdens affecting not only those families but also potentially society
in general. These results may imply that physicians and other care professionals should
consider recommending that parents of children with autism seek financial counseling
to help plan for the transition into adulthood.