Insurance may cover some of the costs, but raising a child with autism can take a tremendous financial toll on a family.

In fact, society as a whole spends spends $137 billion dollars on the condition annually. That’s according to a new study by Autism Speaks.

“We’re seeing increased costs for things like direct intervention, residential care and other services, but families also are paying for the regular medical issues that every child has whether you have autism or not,” said Michael Rosenoff, Associate Director of Public Health Research and Scientific Review at Autism Speaks.

“Many parents who are raising an autistic child aren’t able to work, so when you talk about loss of income plus direct medical costs, the money you have to spend for early behavioral intervention as well as intervention throughout the life span, you’re talking about a tremendous burden,” said Rosenoff. For an individual with autism and intellectual disabilities, it costs $2.3 million over their lifetime. For those without intellectual disabilities, the cost is $1.4 million.

“In addition to the regular health issues that individuals with autism have, many of them also have other medical conditions such as

G-I issues or sleep related issues that can add to those costs for health care,” said Rosenoff. “It really depends on the state you’re in in terms of coverage. Autism Speaks is working very hard to advocate for insurance coverage for all types of services in every state in the U.S. We are making headway, but still there are specifics in terms of what type of intervention is covered and how many hours are covered. Society needs to work together to address this issue.”

“What we do know is that early intervention does improve long term outcomes for children and adults with autism,” said Rosenoff. “By getting early intervention to families that need it will actually reduce these costs to society over the lifetime of an individual and that’s very important. The costs of inaction are much more expensive than the costs of action. Costs to provide early intervention therapy up front are good costs because they are going to reduce the overall costs of autism to society and to families in the long run.”