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Autism’s effect on family income

Parents' role in autism treatment is the subject of a feature story I wrote for the upcoming issue of Stanford Medicine magazine. My story focuses on efforts at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital to teach parents to deliver scientifically-supported autism treatments to their kids, and also to show them techniques for objectively evaluating the autism therapies their children receive.

As I reported the story, I quickly realized that raising a child with autism requires a much more intense investment of time and resources than raising a typically-developing kid. I wondered what sort of toll that takes on other elements of parents' lives. A new study, out today in Pediatrics, answers one part of that question: the effects on a family's earning power.

Mothers' employment and earning power are especially affected when a child has autism, reports a story covering the new study on MedPage Today:

On average, compared with mothers of children with no health limitations, mothers of children with an ASD were 6% less likely to work, worked 7 fewer hours, and earned 56% ($14,755) less, according to Zuleyha Cidav, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues.


"Given the substantial healthcare expenses associated with ASD, the economic impact of having lower income in addition to these expenses is substantial," they wrote. "It is essential to design universal healthcare and workplace policies that recognize the full impact of autism."

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