Babies and Families

Autism's Effects on Your Finances

The financial challenges for raising an Autistic child can be just as overwhelming as the emotional ones. National Autism Awareness Month is a good time to address those challenges and start building a better financial plan.

The Financial Planning Challenges of Caring for a Child with Autism

April is National Autism Awareness Month, and so it seems appropriate to address financial planning challenges unique to families with an Autistic child. The financial challenges of Autism can be just as daunting as the emotional challenges. Most of the information for this article is cited from the autism spectrum disorder foundation. Below is a quick overview of some of the financial decisions parents of Autism face.

  • Challenge #1: One parent may have to stop working.

    This is true of many medical conditions. When a child requires extra care, one of the most significant impacts on family finances is time. The other alternative, caregivers, can get expensive quickly. According to American Academy of Pediatrics an Autism diagnosis meant a loss of 14 percent of family income.

  • Before you make the decision to quit your work outside the home, remember that even a few hours each week could allow for much-needed adult interaction and provide purpose beyond your caregiving role. If you do chose to stop working in order to meet the needs of your child, remember that occasionally needing a break isn't giving up. Many communities have local respite care programs which would allow you to take a weekend off.

  • Challenge #2: Private health insurance plans differ widely. Some don't cover necessary expenses.

    According to 2014 studies, 36 percent of private health insurance plans completely exclude expenses related to autism. This appears to be because many of the essential services that autism requires are classified as “educational” rather than “medical.” Another study by the society for social work and research found that 82 percent of American families caring for a child with autism spent money on medical expenses out of pocket.

    You'll want to do your research carefully, as a loss of coverage can be a serious hindrance to getting the kind of educational and social programming that will give children with autism the tools needed to adjust to an independent lifestyle when they grow up.

  • Challenge #3: There are some government programs, but you may need to seek private funding.

    The IDEA Act is a government program that ensures access to some educational services. But there are a number of private grants and community groups that could reduce stress, financial worries, and improve quality of life. A great deal of long-term treatment is focused on therapy rather than medication, so looking for arts and music, animal therapy, and social programs might be an important step.

In addition to the three financial planning challenges above, estate planning is of particular significance for parents of Autistic children because you want to make sure that your child is provided for when you're no longer here to do so. Life insurance can be a helpful tool to fund your child's future care requirements. Talk to your financial planner to learn more about your estate planning options.


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All Learning Center articles are general summaries that can be used when considering your financial future at various life stages. The information presented is for educational purposes and is meant to supplement other information specific to your situation. It is not intended as investment advice and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Protective Life or its subsidiaries.

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Neither Protective Life nor its representatives offer legal or tax advice. We encourage you to consult with your financial adviser and legal or tax adviser regarding your individual situations before making investment, social security, retirement planning, and tax‐related decisions. For information about Protective Life and its products and services, visit

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Financial Challenges

Having a child with Autism could cause many sleepless nights. But you shouldn't have to lose sleep over your financial challenges. While there are may be many hurdles ahead of you, there are also some options. These options could help you face not only financial challenges, but also emotional struggles. Private grants may ease your burden and there could be community programs for your child's therapy or for your own. Continue to do your research and find the best solution for your family. For more information, visit our learning center.