There are a lot of extra costs associated with caring for autistic individuals, particularly when they are young. Apparently someone has taken the time to do a study on what it costs to care for autistic children.
Association of Childhood Autism Spectrum Disorders and Loss of Family Income
Data collected from 1999 to 2000 showed that each year U.S. taxpayer dollars collectively pay $12,773 of the annual education expenses associated with each child with autism. In spite of this assistance, ASD-affected families still bore the brunt of the financial burden. Between un-actualized income (again, estimated near $6,200) and extensive out-of-pocket ASD-related expenditures – one 2006 national study from the University of Rochester estimated that these families paid nearly $5,300 more than other families – this direct-to-family cost may exceed $11,000 each year.
Recent research has shown that parents of children with emotional and behavioral disorders lack appropriate community-based services and resources needed to support work and family obligations. Families with a child with a serious disability often accommodate family and work obligations to the requirements and behavior of the affected child. Lack of resources that fit the special needs of the child can have a significant impact on work and family functioning, leading to significant difficulty in establishing a work-family balance.
Kristina of Autism Vox notes,
Even if one is not paying for specialists and therapists who can cost a few hundred dollars an hour (depending on what they are providing), money just becomes an issue for families with a special needs child. First of all is the matter of work: A child may have so many needs, and need such constant attention, that one parent is simply not able to work. Second, as noted, kids with special needs often need specialized educational therapies and medical treatments.
The reader comments on her post are an enlightening read on what it costs families to care for their loved ones. It's a price we are willing to pay because to us it's more than worth it.