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The cost of autism spectrum disorders
School of Occupational Therapy & Social Work, CHIRI, Curtin University, Perth, Australia.
Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, CHILD.
School of Occupational Therapy & Social Work, CHIRI, Curtin University, Perth, Australia.
School of Psychology, CHIRI, Curtin University, Perth, Australia.
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2014 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 9, no 9, article id e106552Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Objective

A diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorders is usually associated with substantial lifetime costs to an individual, their family and the community. However, there remains an elusive factor in any cost-benefit analysis of ASD diagnosis, namely the cost of not obtaining a diagnosis. Given the infeasibility of estimating the costs of a population that, by its nature, is inaccessible, the current study compares expenses between families whose children received a formal ASD diagnosis immediately upon suspecting developmental atypicality and seeking advice, with families that experienced a delay between first suspicion and formal diagnosis.

Design

A register based questionnaire study covering all families with a child with ASD in Western Australia.

Participants

Families with one or more children diagnosed with an ASD, totalling 521 children diagnosed with an ASD; 317 records were able to be included in the final analysis.

Results

The median family cost of ASD was estimated to be AUD $34,900 per annum with almost 90% of the sum ($29,200) due to loss of income from employment. For each additional symptom reported, approximately $1,400 cost for the family per annum was added. While there was little direct influence on costs associated with a delay in the diagnosis, the delay was associated with a modest increase in the number of ASD symptoms, indirectly impacting the cost of ASD.

Conclusions

A delay in diagnosis was associated with an indirect increased financial burden to families. Early and appropriate access to early intervention is known to improve a child's long-term outcomes and reduce lifetime costs to the individual, family and society. Consequently, a per symptom dollar value may assist in allocation of individualised funding amounts for interventions rather than a nominal amount allocated to all children below a certain age, regardless of symptom presentation, as is the case in Western Australia.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 9, no 9, article id e106552
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-25381DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0106552ISI: 000347993600036PubMedID: 25191755Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84907005842Local ID: HHJCHILDIS, HLKCHILDISOAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-25381DiVA, id: diva2:773241
Available from: 2014-12-18 Created: 2014-12-18 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved

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