A new study published by NUI Galway researchers provides original insights into the economic impact of childhood autism spectrum disorders in Ireland. The study highlights the extent to which families pay for services relative to state funded services and provides a compelling case for significant additional state funded investment. The study was published this week in the international journal, Autism – The International Journal of Research and Practice.
Findings from the study showed that on average, the annual cost per child for families amounted to over €28,000 as a result of paying for private autism spectrum disorders (ASD ) services, lost income and informal care, while over €14,000 of state funded services were consumed. Families whose children were more severely affected and those with more than one child affected faced significantly higher costs. While 15 per cent of children with autism spectrum disorders in the survey were from lone parent families who faced particular challenges in meeting needs.
The study was based on a national survey undertaken by NUI Galway in collaboration with staff from the Centre of Public Health in Queens University Belfast and was funded by the Irish Research Council and Autism Ireland.
Áine Roddy from the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway, and the study’s lead author, said: “The study shows that access to autism spectrum disorders services in Ireland is overly dependent on the ability of families to pay for those services and places substantial financial hardship on families already facing many challenges in meeting the complex needs of children with an ASD.”
Professor Ciaran O’Neill, Adjunct Professor of Health Economics at NUI Galway and co-author of the paper, said: “The study provides valuable insights into a neglected area of research. The findings should spur policy makers in Ireland to rethink the support provided to children with ASD and their families.”
To read the full study entitled ‘The Economic Costs and its Predictors for Childhood Autism Spectrum Disorders in Ireland: How is the Burden Distributed?’ in Autism – The International Journal of Research and Practice, visit: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1362361318801586