Also, the survey data did not indicate which specific autism spectrum disorders these children had, Mandell reported. However, he said the data likely included children diagnosed with autism and Asperger's, among other disorders.
The researchers found mothers of children with autism spectrum disorders were 5 percent less likely to have a job than the mothers of children who had other chronic health problems, and 12 percent less likely to have jobs than mothers of healthy kids.
Moreover, the mothers of children with autism spectrum disorders earned about $6,300 less annually than mothers of kids with other health conditions and $11,540 less than mothers whose kids were healthy.
In contrast, the fathers of children with autism spectrum disorders suffered no significant difference in employment or income compared to that of other fathers, Mandell's team noted.
The researchers also found that labor force mothers of children with autism spectrum disorders worked slightly fewer hours (34 compared to 35 hours), while fathers of children with an autistic disorder worked slightly more hours (46 versus 44 hours).
The overall findings mean that families with children with autism spectrum disorders earn an estimated $11,900 less a year than families with children with other chronic health problems and $17,640 less than families with healthy kids. This translates to 20 percent less than families with kids who have another chronic disease and 27 percent less than families with healthy children, the researchers said.
"The labor market costs associated with having a child with autism are very substantial -- more substantial than with a child with other health limitations," Mandell said.
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