Raising a typical child is expensive. The dollars can add up quickly between the food, clothes, supplies, classes and activities. Raising a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be especially financially challenging as therapy, medical care and specialized education often come with significant costs.

Studies show the total lifetime cost of supporting someone with ASD is $1.4 million in the United States. Parents often cut back on their work hours or stop working entirely so they can help their child full-time. This can add to the financial strain.

It’s wise for families to take a long-term view of their costs and plan accordingly. Here are some coping strategies families can use to help manage the financial burden of autism, access essential resources, and plan for their child’s future.

What are the Costs Involved with Raising an Autistic Child?

The first significant costs to consider are medical and therapeutic expenses. Children with ASD may require speech, occupational and behavioral therapies. When you add in medical care and medications, the total expenses can be high.

Children with ASD often have additional educational needs. They may require specialized education programs, private school, and tutoring services, all of which can financially strain the family.

Lastly, there are long-term costs to consider. These costs include the housing, vocational training and support services a child with ASD will need as they transition into adulthood.

Where Can I Turn For Help?

Many resources exist for families with ASD children. These include state and local government agencies and nonprofit organizations and charities. Other resources worth pursuing are public and private insurance options and even legal claims if the autism was potentially linked to something ingested during pregnancy.

Specifically, parents can look to:

  • Government assistance– Government-funded programs and benefits available for families of children with ASD include Medicaid, Social Security and special education services.

  • Nonprofit organizations and charities– Many nonprofits and charitable organizations offer help in the form of financial assistance, grants, and scholarships. Families with ASD children can use these funds for therapy, education and other services.

  • Insurance coverage Parents can investigate possible insurance coverage options to help best cover their autism-related costs. These could include employer-sponsored plans, individual policies or government-funded programs.

  • Legal compensation claims – Depending on their situation, parents could have grounds to make a legal claim regarding the cause of their child’s autism. For instance, some studies show a potential link between Tylenol use during pregnancy and a child’s autism. Families who think this may apply to them might consider speaking with an experienced attorney about seeking compensation.

Financial Planning Strategies for ASD Families

Parents of children with ASD need to plan long-term for the costs of education, treatments and therapies. They also need to ensure someone is there to take care of their child in case something happens to them. Here are some helpful coping strategies to consider:

  • Create a budget – It’s smart to craft a comprehensive budget for current and future autism-related expenses. This process will help families assess and manage their financial situation.

  • Establish a special needs trust –This allows for assets to be transferred to the child through the will of the parents. The parents appoint a trustee to manage the trust if the parents are not alive. This trust helps to protect their child’s financial future and ensures they remain eligible for government benefits.

  • Consult with financial professionals. Parents can consult with financial planners, tax advisors, and attorneys who have specialized experience with special needs planning. By doing so, they may help maximize their financial resources while developing a long-term plan for their child’s care.

Get Educated on Costs and Finances

It’s essential for you to effectively manage the financial stressors that having an ASD child can involve. Understand the costs involved, explore available resources, and put into place strategic financial planning. With these steps, you can better meet the financial challenges and ensure you ASD child can get the support and care they need.