Autism 'costs UK almost £28 billion a year'|
LONDON, UK: Autism costs the United Kingdom almost £28 billion a year, according to new research.
Health and social care provision, lost employment, and family expenses for more than half a million autistic Britons costs the UK £27.7 billion annually.
The lifetime cost to society for someone with autism is estimated to be £4.7 million.
The findings, commissioned by the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, shows that caring for autistic adults costs far more than caring for children with autism.
Adults with autism cost £25 billion a year, while for children, the figure is £2.7 billion. There are approximately 433,000 adults and 107,000 children with autism in the UK. Autism is a life-long developmental condition which affects people's ability to communicate, form relationships and interact socially.
Dr Andrew McCulloch, Chief Executive of the foundation, said: "These figures illustrate the real cost of autism and give serious weight to the argument that more resources are needed to intervene early and effectively in the lives of those who are affected by the condition.
"Early intervention would help individuals with autism and their families experience a better quality of life and reduce the high costs incurred in later years, saving public money."
The figures detailed in the Economic Consequences of Autism in the UK report show that 59 per cent of the costs are generated by health and social care provision, 36 per cent through lost employment, and 5 per cent for family expenses. The report says that more supported employment opportunities for people with autism are needed.
Professor Martin Knapp, of the London School of Economics, who led the research, said: "At a time when the government is emphasising the need for higher rates of economic activity, and is trying to support people with disabilities and long-term conditions to move into paid employment, these high costs stand out.
"Very few people with autism are in employment - it will be no easy task to achieve higher employment rates among this group but the figures suggest that the government should try."
(Source: Channel 4 News, November 19, 2007)