Yesterday was March 14, 2021. Also known as Pi day, for the mathematical 3.14159265359..., the ratio of the circumference of any circle to the diameter of that circle. Daniel Tammet, he of the book Born on a Blue Day and a man on the spectrum, holds the record for memorizing the first 22,514 digits. Tammet was in the spotlight in the 20-teens, the heyday of autism books, memoirs and society's fascination, interest and attention to autism. Age of Autism began publishing in the blog format in 2007. Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill were writing their deep dive into the origins of the epidemic together: The Age of Autism: Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-Made Epidemic.
Autism has lost its media sheen. More the shame, because as cute kids become adults, the needs increase. School stops at 18 or 22 and the drop off is steep for services. The severely affected languish. Those who can do brilliant work and enjoy employment struggle to find and hold onto meaningful work. All while tired parents are growing older, worrying about their own retirement, many trapped in the sandwich generation, also caring for ageing parents. It's grim picture. I read on a CT special needs Facebook page a request. A woman had just become guardian for her 54 year old cousin with autism. Both of his parents had died, rather suddenly. And she was asking how she could make his weekend visits to her home enjoyable for him. Wow. Do your kids have a cousin who would take on such responsibility?
We found trillions for Covid vaccines in less than a year. Not autism. Washington DC added payments to unemployment due
to Covid that equal almost two times what SSI pays our adult children to survive. Washington DC offered PPP loans to businesses shut down by Covid. How many families had to close a business or quit a job to take care of a loved one with autism? SafeMinds featured this story in 2020. Pi day was yesterday. But autism will not get a piece of any pie we want.
The lifetime cost of autism for U.S. cases identified in the 30 years between 1990 and 2019 is estimated to be $7 trillion. If costs for the next decade 2020-2029 are included, the lifetime cost will reach up to $15 trillion. The findings were reported in a new study in the journal Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders.
In “The Lifetime Social Cost of Autism: 1990–2029”, authors Janet Cakir, Richard Frye, and Stephen Walker compiled findings from peer-reviewed published studies on the number of cases of autism for the decades 1990-2019 and the lifetime cost of autism per person in the U.S.
For prevalence, they used the two best known Federal monitoring systems: the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network (ADDM) and the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) by the National Center for Health Statistics. They estimated that 2 million new cases of autism were identified between 1990 and 2019. They factored in the severity of autism, specifically the comorbidity of intellectual disability which increases lifetime costs, and the estimated number of years living with autism. The number of years with autism is determined by the age of diagnosis and the person’s lifespan, which for those on the spectrum is shortened relative to the typically developing population.
For costs, they included the “social costs” across the lifespan. The costs are those incurred beyond what typically developing people would incur. They consist of medical and healthcare-related spending, therapies, special education services, lost wages for the person with ASD as well as parents/caregivers, accommodations, and respite care. The costs only reflect what society pays, not the expenses families incur out of their own pockets. Nor do the calculations reflect what the actual needs are of the person with autism, which are often greater than the resources available.
The average lifetime cost of autism per person was calculated to be $3.6 million. Projecting this amount to the autism prevalence data, they estimated the national social costs for all cases identified 1990-2019 to be $7 trillion. The greatest cost over the lifespan is from lost employment, followed by adult care. Medical care and education expenses were the lowest components. Read more: https://safeminds.org/research/30-years-of-autism-7-trillion-in-costs/