Autism Carries Enormous Costs for Us All

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), April 12, 2009 | Go to article overview

Autism Carries Enormous Costs for Us All


Byline: Doug Richards For The Register-Guard

April 2 was the United Nations' second international Autism Awareness Day, and in Lane County it seemed to pass with little fanfare. We all lead busy lives, and isn't there some sort of U.N. awareness day for everything?

Well, not for health-related issues; only AIDS, diabetes and now autism have that dubious distinction. Sixty-seven million people have been diagnosed with autism worldwide, but tens of millions more live with it each and every day as the parents and caregivers for those living on the autism spectrum. Society will pay for this challenge for decades to come.

According to the textbooks, autism is a lifelong neurological condition then affects how a person relates to the world. Because it is a spectrum disorder, meaning that its effects can range from mild to severe, some people with autism exhibit only the most subtle differences from you or me and may be thought to be nothing more than a bit quirky. Other people with autism may never break through the bottleneck that keeps them from participating in our world and may have extreme behavior challenges.

To date we are not exactly sure what causes autism, and there is still more than a little controversy surrounding this mystery. We know that in some cases there is a genetic component, and it has been suspected that there is some sort of environmental trigger or triggers. We do know that most children with autism are not mentally retarded. In the past it was thought that nearly 75 percent of children with autism were mentally retarded; today we know that nearly the opposite is true.

Autism carries some enormous social costs. Sadly, children with autism are more likely to be incarcerated at some point in their lives than neuro-typical children. The incidence of divorce among families who have a child with a developmental disability such as autism is more than 50 percent higher than the national rate. Because of an inability to understand social situations, consistent rewarding employment can be elusive for people with autism. We will all pay for the autism epidemic in some shape or form.

Today many children, not just ones with autism, are not getting the right structure and support they need to reach their full potential. Children with autism have myriad treatment needs and educational challenges, ranging from sensory and social to behavior issues and learning skills. These are all interconnected, and addressing them can be complex and expensive - but we know it does pay dividends.

These dividends come in many forms that may be off in the distance (reduced incarceration, lower divorce rates, more productive employment) but this does not make them any less real.

However, because these dividends are off in the future it is easy to focus on very real financial challenges today and let the long-term costs of autism be someone else's problem. This is a fine tradition in American policymaking - look at Social Security and Medicare.

With more than $50 trillion of wealth vaporized in the current financial downturn, there are many voices that are louder than those of families living with autism, many of whose children don't speak. Having attended a school board meeting, it was obvious that the stark economic realities have been present for educators for some time, and they are bracing for more. Difficult decisions are being made around the nation with respect to cutting programs and staff, delaying maintenance and improvements to schools, and just trying to ride out the storm.

Autism also comes with a pretty grim economic reality. Harvard researchers estimated several years ago that the lifetime costs of treating and caring for a person with autism might reach $3 million; given the number of people diagnosed with autism globally we face a challenge that through this century will be measured in the tens of quadrillions of dollars - yes, quadrillions. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Autism Carries Enormous Costs for Us All
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.