I saw the results of a study this morning that gave the total cost of raising a child (in our lingo, a neurotypical child) into adulthood. Let’s compare that to the cost given by a Harvard study a couple of years ago on the cost to raise an autistic child into adulthood.
Average cost of raising a neurotypical child – $290,000
Average cost of raising an autistic child – $3,200,000
But wait! The mathematically astute among you will notice that the second amount doesn’t quite add up logically. Not many people even make that much in income over 18 years. A chunk of that is because health care and educational expenses are factored into that number regardless of who pays for it (parents, insurers, Medicaid, local schools, states, etc.), but there’s another big chunk that most no one – other than parents with autistic kids -thinks about.
In many families with autistic children, one of the parents reduces their work hours or stops working altogether in order to care for their child, learn all the therapies, be their advocate, etc. I freelance when I have time, but my net revenue per year is maybe 20-25% of what I would get paid to work full-time in the corporate world.
The reality for me is that I took a 75-80% pay cut to take the greatest job in the world – being the stay-at-home dad for two awesome kids. But there’s another reality. Until there is greater access to care and serious health care and education reform in the U.S., the financial costs of all this will continue to grow more and more rapidly. So far, we’ve been lucky. I know of plenty of families on the verge of drowning.
But the J-Man is neither a statistic nor a dollar amount. If we had to sell our last pair of shoes, we’d do it. The moral of the story is, no one should have to.