Autism Costs US Up To $262 Billion A Year

The lifetime cost of supporting a person with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be as high as $2.44 million, according to a new study.

Annually, the cost of supporting children and adults with ASDs in the United States is estimated between $236 billion and $262 billion—a figure that researchers note emphasizes the need for continued research into cost-effective interventions.  

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To calculate the estimated economic effect of ASD, researchers analyzed all published literature on ASD in October 2013. 

They found that an estimated 3.5 million US citizens had ASDs—of which 40% to 60% also had intellectual disability (ie, limitations in intellectual function and adaptive behaviors, including social and practice skills).

The cost of supporting an individual with an ASD in the US was estimated around $1.43 million, increasing to $2.44 million for individuals with intellectual disability.

Nonmedical expenses (eg, special education), indirect costs (eg, parents’ productivity loss), and medical expenses accounted for the highest percent of spending in children with ASDs. Accommodations (eg, supported housing), followed by medical expenses and productivity loss were highest in adult patients.

“The substantial direct and indirect economic effect of ASDs emphasizes the need to continue to search for effective interventions that make best use of scarce societal resources,” researchers concluded.

–Michael Potts


Buescher AVS, Cidav Z, Knapp M, Mandell DS. Costs of autism spectrum disorders in the United Kingdom and the United States. JAMA. June 9, 2014. [epub ahead of print]. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.210