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The Staggering Costs of Autism

Abadnonned schoolBy Anne Dachel

Three years ago I wrote about Dr. Toby Rogers, a political economist who was making some scary predictions about what autism would eventually cost this country in two stories.

Dr. Rogers made dire predictions of what would happen by 2025:

The following comments are from a Mar 11, 2020 interview by Del Bigtree’s called, The True Cost of Autism with Dr. Toby Rogers

I was troubled by the fact that the CDC doesn’t have a good explanation for why autism rates go up 10 to 15 percent every year for almost forty years now….

“So I spent the next four years studying and reading everything that’s been written on the science of autism. I read every vaccine safety study that’s out there. …

“I was just stunned by what I found.

“In 2015, autism cost the United States $268 billion. …And they project that if autism continues at its current rate, that autism will cost the United States one trillion dollars by 2025.

“The first wave of vaccine injured kids are aging out of the school system and they need adult residential care.

“And there is no plan at the federal level or at the state level for how to manage this wave of autistic adults.

“Within six years, autism is going to cost the United States more than the U.S. Defense Department budget.

“This is a tsunami of costs that are already here, and yet, government isn’t talking about it. Politicians don’t talk about it. And they continue to be engaged in denial….

So right now in 2023, we should see signs of that coming tsunami, despite all the media hype about neurodiversity and autism awareness, acceptance and inclusion.

My site, Loss of Brain Trust, does just that.  The signs are everywhere.

Here is just a recent glimpse at the coming collapse. These numbers don’t lie.

Skelmersdale, England: Councillors are expected to approve plans to expand and increase the number of school places at Kingsbury Primary School in Skelmersdale next week.

The co-educational special school is proposing to create 30 additional places, increasing the number of places to 120.

"We identified some time ago the need for special school places across the county and have been working hard to create more places to meet the demand.

  1. Yorkshire, England: Councillors agreed earlier this week to further explore the proposed project, which would provide school places for children and young people with autism in North Yorkshire.

A total of £3.5 million [$4.4M] has been earmarked to allow potential upgrading of the site to enable it to cater for up to 80 pupils with autism aged between 11 and 19.

The Council says since 2016, the number of children and young people with identified SEND and an education, health and care plan (EHCP) has increased by over 110 per cent in North Yorkshire. As this trend continues, it is estimated that an additional capacity of 350 SEND school places will be required to be developed over the next three to five years.

“Currently there are 432 children with the primary need of autism accessing existing North Yorkshire special schools and we are committed to providing further support.

England:Research has found that the number of autism diagnoses has increased by 787 per cent in the past 20 years.

And statistics from the Department for Education show that the number of pupils with autism as their primary special educational need rose from 50,000 in 2009 to around 163,000 in 2020-21.

However, mainstream schools often report struggling to support children who may have been waiting for years for an official diagnosis.

And there is a huge squeeze on specialist places, with special schools under pressure to meet rising demand.

A DfE spokesperson said: “We recognise more needs to be done to support children with SEND, which is why we are putting significant investment into the high-needs budget, worth £10.1 billion [$13B] by 2023-24, which is 50 per cent more than four years ago.

England: Nearly nine in ten special schools are forecasting a budget deficit over the next two years

Special schools are staring into budget holes as deep as £1.5 million [$1.9M], a Schools Week investigation has found, as heads say “enough is enough” and launch a national campaign against more cuts.

…the average deficit across 80 schools in the red is forecast as £144,176 [$180K] next year, rising to £225,926 [$283K] across nearly 90 schools in 2024-25….

Margaret Mulholland, a SEND specialist at the school leaders’ union ASCL, said if there was no additional funding the future survival of SEND infrastructure was at risk. “This is not a sustainable direction of travel.”

Massachusetts: Lawmakers and Gov. Maura Healey might take action in the next five weeks to steer more money to schools burdened by a sharp escalation in special education costs, according to a top Senate Democrat.

Australia: An article in the Weekend Australian on April, 2023, titled, Autism to cost budget $8.25bn [$5.48B]: will the safety net break? was captioned with: Autism to cost budget $8.25bn: will the safety net break? The number of children being diagnosed with autism and supported by the NDIS is rising alarmingly.

Berkeley, CA: Spending on special education has increased 30% in Berkeley Unified over four years.

The cost of educating students with disabilities in Berkeley Unified is going up, even as overall enrollment continues to decline, straining district budgets and creating a dilemma for fully funding special ed.

Expenditures for special education are expected to total $38 million this year, an increase of $9 million from the 2018-19 school year. The money goes toward serving over 1,000 BUSD students who receive special education services for disabilities like dyslexia, autism and speech impairments and make up 12% of the district’s overall student body….

"We’re seeing a decrease in the population of all of our students, but our students with IEPs [individualized education plans] are either staying the same or growing,” Shawn Mansager, special education director at Berkeley Unified, said during a May 3 school board meeting. “That does create a bit of a quandary for how we continue to fund special education services.”

Special education costs have been rising statewide for over 15 years, in large part because of an increase in the share of students with more severe disabilities, especially autism, who require more intensive support, according to a 2019 report by the legislative analyst’s office….

In California, educating students with disabilities costs on average triple what it does to educate those without disabilities.

Northern Ireland: One in 20 schoolchildren in Northern Ireland has a diagnosis of autism, according to figures published by the Department of Health (DoH)

It is the highest prevalence rate on record, and more than four times as many as 15 years ago….

It said there were 15,212 children aged 4-16 identified with autism in 2022/23. That is compared to 14,019 children in 2021/22.

In 2008/09 about 3,300 children had a diagnosis of autism, about 1.2% of the school age population.

The department said the Autism Act 2011 and an accompanying increase in awareness could be partly responsible for the rise....

About four in five of children with autism have some form of special educational needs (SEN) and more than half have a statement.

Derbyshire, England: Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins, has called for an urgent meeting with Derbyshire County Council to discuss ‘unacceptable delays’ to Education, Health and Care Plans meaning children and schools are left without support….

Legally, the process should take a maximum of 20 weeks, but many parents and teachers have said this is now taking 40 to 50 weeks – meaning children are left without the support they need and can’t be accepted by special schools.

Albuquerque, NM: In APS, special education students comprise 23.3% of the student population. Each special ed. student has an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP). An IEP is a plan created by a team of teachers, the student and their family to ensure that students with special needs are receiving the appropriate services.

New Castle, England: A special school in Newcastle is set for a major expansion, in a bid to keep up with rapidly escalating demand for places….

The move comes after warnings that more than 300 more school places for autistic youngsters will be needed in Newcastle over the coming years, with Newcastle City Council having previously stated that a completely new special school will need to be built.

Kissimee, FL: A new culturally and linguistically inclusive behavior therapy center celebrated its grand opening in Kissimmee.

Santiago & Friends opened its first autism center in 2015 with locations in Orlando and Titusville.

Now, the center is opening its third location in Kissimmee.

The plan is to open a fourth location in Sanford this summer, serving four counties, including Seminole, Orange, Brevard, and Osceola.

Bristol, England: Special needs education and children in care are costing Bristol City Council millions of pounds over its budget. New figures show how much extra money the council spent last year compared to how much was originally budgeted for, with some areas costing far more than planned.

Increasing numbers of children and young people in Bristol, and across the country, need extra support at school, while some children need to be taken into care. But the level of demand rose much faster last year than City Hall chiefs expected in the annual council budget.

Details of how much was spent compared to how much was budgeted for the financial year from April 2022 to March 2023 were revealed in recent cabinet papers. During a cabinet meeting on Monday, May 15, council bosses said they were “struggling” with over-spends.

Councillor Craig Cheney, deputy mayor responsible for finance, said: “The main financial challenge for schools is the high needs block, which has an in-year overspend of £16.2 million [$20M], resulting from an increase in education, health and care plans.”

Chard, England: A former day centre near a Somerset hospital will be transformed into a special needs school if new plans are approved….

SEND provider 3 Dimensions Ltd., which runs the existing school at Chardleigh House north-west of Chard, has applied to Somerset Council to turn the day centre into a satellite site for up to 30 pupils between the ages of 7 and 19.

A spokesman for Alder King Planning (representing the school) said: “The school supports children with social, emotional and mental health needs including autism. The school was rated ‘good’ with outstanding features by Ofsted in 2022.

“It is proposed that the two sites will sit under a single school registration and leadership team. It is anticipated that up to 30 children will be educated at the Laurel Centre.….

Blidworth, England: Plans have been submitted seeking permission to create a new facility for children outside of mainstream education….

“In summary they have said, ‘Pollyteach provides high-quality one-to-one and group work for young people who are disengaged from mainstream education.

“Combining social work, with teaching practice and youth work, we provide bespoke learning programmes to young people with a range of emotional, social and behavioural difficulties that make it difficult for them to attend school’.”

Nuneaton, England: A school for children with special educational needs will relocate its post-16 education two miles away to boost capacity.

Oak Wood School provides education for children and young adults with special education needs and disabilities (SEND) and autism, covering an age range from four to 19.

A report by Warwickshire County Council acknowledged there was not enough capacity to meet demand in the secondary school section with population growth in Nuneaton and Bedworth expected to add to the problem in the next five years.

New Jersey: “The reality of the situation can’t be ignored,” Dr. Christopher Manente, the founding Executive Director of the Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services. “Our society continues to be hugely discriminatory and ableist in reference to providing fair and appropriate opportunities for adults with autism to achieve their full potential in adulthood.”

Experts say just like we began to develop special education teaching pathways in the 70s, society now needs to develop pathways into careers that help adults with autism….

“If we look at 1 in 34 individuals [diagnosed as being on the spectrum], they will age out of that under-21 system and as a result, they need somewhere to go and to live and build their own community,” said Karen Fluharty, a mother of an adult son with Autism, and leader of advocate group Parents With A Plan.

Michigan: These new locations, and a $45,000 grant, are expected to enhance the organization’s autism services to better serve individuals and families in metro Detroit.

In congruence with Autism Awareness Month and Autism Acceptance Month, Easterseals MORC announced back in April two new program locations at 505 E. Maple Road in Troy and 51229 Century Court in Wixom…

The new Easterseals MORC location in Troy is three times the size of MORC’s previous Troy location, and with more space and staff, the organization will build upon services previously offered….

With a lack of autism services offered in Wixom, Easterseals MORC also saw an opportunity to expand and offer its services in the city.

In addition to these two new locations, Easterseals MORC has also announced it will receive a $45,000 grant from CareSource — “a nationally recognized leader in managed care” — that will go to support the newly-planned Autism Comprehensive Care Center, which will offer individuals on the spectrum, and their families, personalized services that are tailored to their specific needs.

Thornbury, England: CONSTRUCTION has begun on a new special school near Thornbury. Specialist school Two Bridges Academy, located on Vattingstone Lane in Alveston next to Marlwood School, will have approximately 112 spaces for pupils.

Places will be available for children and young people from nursery to sixth form who have severe, profound, or multiple learning difficulties, as well as students who have severe learning difficulties and autism.

New Jersey: Bierman Autism Centers (Bierman), a leading provider of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy services, proudly announces the opening of its fourth New Jersey location in Ramsey, with immediate openings for new clients and diagnostic services.

Northern Ireland: As highlighted by a recent report by the BBC News NI, there will be a “significant shortfall” in places for pupils in special schools when the new term starts in September. This news comes as an Education Authority (EA) committee has been told that there is a need for more than 850 additional places in special schools.

The EA’s letter to heads and governors states that there was a 15% rise in the number of children with a statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN) seeking a school place in 2023. To cope with those numbers, special schools also need an additional 76 classrooms by September 2023. However, the committee heard that, at present, only 18 of those extra classrooms were confirmed for the start of the new school year. An additional 49 classes will be needed in mainstream schools.

Ontario, Canada: Roughly one out of every 66 children in Ontario is diagnosed with autism. The number seemingly continues to grow, but for parents such as Rigden, so do the number of hurdles and the length of wait lists families have to fight through to get needed assistance.

A group of concerned parents and supporters protested outside the Windsor office of the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services in February 2019, expressing their concern.

The government held extensive consultations, but the plan was slow to unfold before finally beginning to roll out in 2020. It was then further hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The wait lists for both funding and getting support for their children with autism escalated rapidly for parents. As of last month, there were estimated to be over 50,000 children across the province whose families are waiting to secure needed funding support.

New York City: Spearheaded by Councilmember Mercedes Narcisse, the City Council passed a bill last week to require the New York City Police Department (NYPD) to train officers to be better at identifying and engaging appropriately with New Yorkers with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as rates have risen in recent years.

The bill, Intro 273, was approved in a City Council hearing on April 27. The NYPD training will be incorporated into the academy’s processes for new recruits and all uniformed members will have it every other year.

According to the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, the prevalence of ASD has been trending up in the U.S. since 2000.

Saskatchewan, Canada: Reports by Saskatchewan educational administrators that were investigating three Qualified Independent Schools in the province had one report that said school registration procedures indicated students with learning challenges or special needs would not be admitted.

“The diversity we see in our communities is reflected in the diversity we see in our classrooms and publicly-funded schools.”

She said funding for those supports comes through the provincial government, but noted that area of the budget is becoming more and more challenging to meet the needs of all students.

“With increased needs comes increased costs."

“Boards receive funding for intensive needs through that very complex formula, but increasingly what we are hearing is that it is a challenge to meet the growing needs of  students with diverse needs with the funding that is allocated through that funding model.” She said boards will try to find efficiencies within their own budget to make sure they can continue to offer those services, but noted there are growing unmet needs within the system.

“Many students are waiting up to a year, if not longer, to get their assessments done.”

Becotte said additional educational assistants could be used, as well as speech-language pathologists, noting many rural schools have no access to those supports at all.

“We need more teachers in the province. Our classrooms are really expanding at a rate that is unsustainable.”

Springfield, MO: The Arc of the Ozarks plans to unveil a new neurodevelopmental and autism center in Springfield.

Since 2000 the prevalence of autism has jumped 241%. Missouri will witness 40,000 children on the autism spectrum in this decade.

Dygon says one of the greatest challenges in the fight against autism is the availability of early intervention. Children are often placed on waiting lists for more than two years until evaluation availability opens up. Although the Springfield area contains multiple agencies capable of conducting evaluations, there are not enough to go around in a timely manner.

Tuscaloosa, AL: The 4-K Readiness program, a pre-K initiative begun in January, seeks to help children make the adjustment into the social environment in public schools.

A huge part of the transition involves managing sensory input. Jan Sikes, co-founder and executive director of Arts 'n Autism, said this is a new step along the journey to help people with autism.

"We knew we needed a preschool program and what we have now is a 4K Readiness program. When our children hit kindergarten, they often go to special ed classes.

It’s everywhere. The signs of the end of the normally developing child can’t be denied. Things are not going to change. There isn’t even one voice out there calling attention to what’s happening.

 Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.



Back in 2006, Dr. Michael Ganz, from the Harvard’s School of Public Health made this forecast about autism:

 "It can cost about $3.2 million to take care of an autistic person over his or her lifetime. Caring for all people with autism over their lifetimes costs an estimated $35 billion per year."

Right away, even by 2006 dollars, that seemed unrealistic.

In 2007 I wrote about Ganz’s numbers:

The Ganz findings are felt by others to be a gross underestimate of the eventual autism price tag. Research from Lifespire, an organization dedicated to helping individuals with developmental disabilities, puts the eventual estimated lifetime cost for one autistic individual at $10.125 million. This is based on an annual cost of $225,000 per person with a life expectancy of 66 years.

I contacted Dr. Ganz and asked about his numbers, and he told me they were “conservative estimates.”

I think experts like Dr. Ganz and Dr. Rogers tend not to exaggerate their findings. When Rogers made his forecast in 2020, the autism rate was one in every 54 eight year olds. Who knows what the real cost of autism will be with the rate always increasing.


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susan welch

Thank you, Anne, for your untiring efforts.

Benedetta, I love your comments!


Well according to Bill, our very own Bill that blogs here, writes here; right on the AGE OF AUTISM. yeah that Bill that has autism here, that says he has a disfigured face, and tumors that Bill. Yeah, the Bill that says Kim is all white privilege (she feels the privilege once a month, I am sure as she changes the kotex pads) lucky girl. That Bill says there really is no real rise in autism problem, It is all just wrong counting by the crazed psychologists of this country. So really Anne, this whole well researched, documented country by country, state by state article above is just false information.

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