Friday, August 15, 2008

caregiving: back to school with autism

U.S. Department of Education found that an autistic student costs an average of $19,000 a year, or triple the cost for a typical child. Where districts offer one-on-one programs and more, spending can exceed $75,000.


Do not make the mistake of thinking this does not affect everyone. School systems are tied to property tax in the US.


“The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act guarantees "free appropriate" public education from age 3 through high school or age 21, whichever comes first, to all disabled students. But the government has never fully funded the act.”


Nationwide Autism affects 1 in 150 children. In some states such as New Jersey that rate is 1 in 95.


20,000 students diagnosed in 1993 are in their later years of extended high school. 6X that many are now in elementary school and increasing percentages enter every year.


From “edutopia” the George Lucas Educational Foundation:


Overcoming Autism: Public Schools Deal with a Growing Problem

As the number of special-needs students soars, public schools grapple with ways to offer high-quality education without going broke.


(from comment section)


“I realize that my comments and my feelings are politically incorrect. I feel really angry about this. Why doesn't my bright creative typical child get $19K worth of resources every year? She's probably more than likely going to make a bigger impact on the future than a child with severe autism. Why can't resources be spread evenly amongst all kids? You get the best you can for your particular situation with the per capita amount for all kids in your district? Why is a child with disabilities entitled to more of my hard earned tax dollars than my own typical child???”

Sandra from Phoenix


Who amongst us can answer Sandra any better than we can answer a parent of “a child who by choice spent his time blocking out the world and spinning under his crib … without the education he received he would require more total care than he will in the future … and THAT will affect everyone as well.”


Life may be like a box of chocolates but education is not as simple as a box of crayons.


Caregivingly Yours, J Patrick Leer 




(also available in Blogger edition, Caregiver Blog: "Caregivingly Yours")


  1. Very well said, and very well sad.  Those figures haven't changed much from the early to mid 1980's when I was training, working, and learning in the field of autism.  The only difference I see is that back then it was easier to drop your child/young adult afflicted with this private pain off at a State run group home.  At least we now address the problems (some do anyway) by owning the responsibility and care, and doing as much as we can at home before we lean on the State to fix it.  Thanks for your insight, and God bless the work you do in your very own home!  N.

  2. I can see both sides of this; having a child with autism, I know for sure the school districts where she went to school did not spend $19,000 a year on educating her; she was pretty much mainstreamed and for her 4 years of high school, they took her to and from school on the bus, that's about it. She had special services off and on but not consistently. However, she was a late diagnosis of autism, at 15 years old, so who knows what would have been if she was diagnosed earlier (like if someone had listened to me and my concerns), and who knows what would have been spent. But you are right; the long-term effects of not getting autistic children the help they need early will cost a lot too. interesting points to consider and ponder this Friday morning

    hope you are doing well, Patrick


  3. ((((((((((((((HUGSTOYOU)))))))))))))))))))You make a good point.Have a nice weekend.

  4. I went to an autism workshop this summer and we discussed the New Jersey rates. Funny thing is, Alabama State Dept of Ed. would not release their records on the numbers of children with autism to the people that performed the study. I'm sure there were a few other states that followed suite. I'm sure they must have used other information, but I just wonder how accurate the 1/150 and 1/95 numbers are.

    Even so, the numbers are on the increase and increasing within all our schools. My numbers rose this year, along with the severity.


  5. ...Having been in the classroom for 40 years I know  that autistic children need to be diagnosed early and some program planned but this doesn't always happen.   I have been in the County classes where the more severe cases were handled and I was always saddened at the needs and the lack of bodies to help.  The teachers wrote the programs and could not always carry out the plans because of the heavy load of students.
    That 19k is spread over so many things...buildings, equipment, personel, specialisit, till when the spoon gets to the child almost nothing is left.  I always groaned when they said they had a 1 to 1 ratio with the children...........sure when you list everyone  practically to the custodian.. it might be 1 to 1, but the child in the classroom was almost always I to somewhere closer to 6.  Not enough to teach!


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