No-brainer: families with autism end up with lower incomes

The results of a study in this month’s Pediatrics journal will come as no surprise to those of you raising children with autism. The study surveyed the parents of 11,684 school-aged children with autism. It found that on average a household with a child with autism makes $6,200 per year less than an average family where the parents have similar careers. If you like to think in percentages, let me put it this way: parents of children with autism earn 14% less than parents of children without autism.

This seems like a no-brainer to me. Our son has significant physical and mental disabilities. Gus is 21 years old now and lives in a group home. While we were raising Gus at home, my husband and I often stayed in jobs and locations for less pay due to Gus’ needs. And it wasn’t exactly easy finding day care for Gus while we worked. Depending on how Gus was faring, we would cut back work hours, give up fulltime jobs and sometimes stop working altogether to care for him.

I’m not complaining. We love Gus, and we miss having him at home. I’m just trying to explain why the results of this study seemed so painfully obvious to me.

Childhood autism is associated with a substantial loss of annual household income. This likely places a significant burden on families in the
face of additional out-of-pocket expenditures.

Like I said — a no-brainer.


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