The rising cost of caring for a child with autism

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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Everyone knows raising a child can be expensive, but a new report offers an eye-opening price-tag when it comes to raising a child with autism.

A new study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics says the cost of supporting someone with an autism spectrum disorder plus an intellectual disability can add $2.4 million across their lifespan. If the person has autism but no intellectual disability, it can add $1.4 million.

Welcome to Liz Burdick of Bethesda's expensive world.

Liz dipped out of the workforce years ago to be a full-time caretaker for her autistic son, Harry. She estimates her loss of income at $400,000 to $500,000, "I knew that if I went to work, I wouldn't be able to focus on fighting the school system or finding therapists or just being there for him," she says.

Add the rising costs of three years of speech therapy, adult diapers, additional fencing to make sure Harry does not escape, and countless medications.

Harry is non-verbal but just started communicating using an iPad, thanks to all the therapy he is receiving. To Liz, this is priceless.

She says it is tough for her to make ends meet, but she feels for other parents who have to put on hold advocating for their child in order to put food on the table, "If you were working at a cash register, working in a grocery store, working any job where you can't sit on the phone all day, you wouldn't have the opportunity to do that and that just doesn't seem quite right."

In Maryland, the state offers parents of children with autism something called the Autism Waiver, It provides services like after school programs for people that qualify. Liz now receives it, but it took eight years of sitting on a wait-list.

If you or someone you know has been touched by autism, the organization, Autism Speaks, offers support and information. Visit this website.

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