What is Autism?
Autism is a developmental disability that affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Sometimes it affects a person’s cognitive abilities, and many report co-morbid medical issues (gastrointestinal symptoms, inflammatory disorders, anxiety, etc.). Autism manifests itself differently in each individual, and while causes are little understood, increased awareness and funding can help families today. In Colorado, nearly 2,500 school-age children have an autism disorder diagnosis, but the overall figures are likely much higher because other related spectrum disorders – like Asperger’s and PDD-NOS – are identified and served under other disability categories.
Currently, the Autism Society of America estimates that the lifetime cost of caring for a child with autism ranges from $3.5 million to $5 million, and that the United States is facing almost $90 billion annually in costs for autism (this figure includes research, insurance costs and non-covered expenses, Medicaid waivers for autism, educational spending, housing, transportation and employment, in addition to related therapeutic services and caregiver costs).