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New Easter Seals-MassMutual Study: Autism Strains Family Finances, Threatens Long-Term Care and Security
Date:12/16/2008

SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Dec. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Caring for children with autism is wreaking havoc on family finances across America, jeopardizing current and long-term care and security, according to a new study, Living with Autism, released today by Easter Seals and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual).

"No one expected the problems and challenges to be so severe for families living with autism -- the numbers are stark and point to the pervasiveness of this public health crisis," said John Chandler, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of MassMutual's U.S. Insurance Group. "The study reveals that many families are exposed to serious financial risk due to a lack of awareness and planning."

For example, of parents having children with autism:

-- 74 percent fear their children will not have enough financial support after the parents die (compared to only 18 percent of parents with typically developing children)

-- 52 percent say caring for their child drains the family's current financial resources (compared to 13 percent)

-- 47 percent say the cost of care financially impacts how they raise typically developing siblings

"The good news is that, with increased awareness and the right help, this is one piece of the autism puzzle that parents can begin to solve," added Chandler.

"There's a lot at stake," said Joanne Gruszkos, director of the SpecialCare(SM) program at MassMutual. "By not addressing financial and life care planning needs, or addressing them with inexperienced professionals, a lot of these families could, at the very least, risk losing the government services that are a real lifeline for children with autism."

The study found that despite overwhelming need, most parents don't seek out the help of skilled financial professionals for a variety of reasons, including lack of time, not knowing where
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SOURCE MassMutual
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