An article co-authored by Mark Blaxill, Toby Rogers, and Cynthia Nevison just published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders models the costs of autism in the U.S. over the next 40 years. It shows $238 billion a year in current costs rising to $5.5 trillion per year by 2060. This study makes several important contributions to the literature on the costs of autism:
- It has the best-in-class modeling of autism prevalence showing that the U.S. will surpass 6% ASD rates in children in 2024 and 7% ASD rates in children in 2032 (36% severe and 64% milder cases).
- Many prior cost models were static or assumed linear increases in prevalence. This model is fluid and shows how constantly rising prevalence causes ever-increasing costs and how those costs will move through society over time.
- When one graphs constantly rising costs over 40 years it resembles a tsunami that will destroy everything in its path.
- Costs that are currently borne by parents are going to shift permanently onto federal, state, and local government as the parents of the first generation of the epidemic begin to die (sometime around 2040). At the moment no level of government is thinking about how to meet this unprecedented challenge.
- This is the first cost model to highlight the possibility and importance of autism prevention.