. The disorder is often associated with some degree of mental retardation. Autism is the most prevalent PDD and the most common of all serious childhood disorders. It affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans and is increasing at a rate of 10-17 percent each year. It is four times more common in boys than in girls. The exact cause of autism is not known and there is currently no cure for the disorder.
Ganz broke down the total costs of autism into two components: direct and indirect costs. Direct costs include direct medical costs, such as physician and outpatient services, prescription medication, and behavioral therapies (estimated to cost, on average, more than $29,000 per person per year) and direct non-medical costs, such as special education, camps, and child care (estimated to annually cost more than $38,000 for those with lower levels of disability and more than $43,000 for those with higher levels).
Indirect costs equal the value of lost productivity resulting from a person having autism, for example, the difference in potential income between someone with autism and someone without. It also captures the value of lost productivity for an autistic person’s parents. Examples include loss of income due to reduced work hours or not working altogether. Ganz estimates that annual indirect costs for autistic individuals and their parents range from more than $39,000 to nearly $130,000.
Since people with autism receive services from a wide variety of sources, Ganz believes future research efforts should focus on identifying those sources and linking those costs to non-financial data about the burdens of autism. These complementary sources of data can provide a richer picture that will be useful to policymakers in the future to assist them in devoting resources to address the financial and non-financial effects of autism.
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