Many Georgia residents likely know a family that’s been affected by autism. According to the non-profit organization Autism Speaks, an estimated two million men, women and children in the U.S. have been diagnosed as having some form of autism. However, despite the prevalence of the mental disorder, scientists have yet to definitively determine its cause, although both genetic and environmental factors are believed to play a role.

While there is no cure for autism, early diagnosis is vital to ensuring a child receives the attention he or she needs to continue to progress and learn to manage and cope with the disorder. A recent U.S. study revealed that the average yearly costs associated with providing medical care, education and non-medical services for a child with autism is roughly $17,000 more than for a normally developing child. For many families, the financial costs associated with raising a child with autism are difficult to manage.

In addition to medical expenses, children with autism often qualify to receive special services such as speech therapy and special education classes. While the costs associated with many special services for autistic children are covered by insurance or the state, parents of autistic children often still struggle financially and many are forced to cut work hours or stop working to care for and transport a child to doctor and therapy appointments.

Children who have been diagnosed as autistic can qualify to receive social security disability benefits. Monthly SSD benefits can provide families affected by autism much-needed financial assistance. Georgia parents, who have a child that’s been diagnosed with autism, may choose to seek the guidance and assistance of an attorney who handles SSD matters. A legal professional who has experience with the SSD application process can help ensure benefits are awarded as soon as possible.

Source: Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative, “School, healthcare costs add up for children with autism,” Laura Geggel, March 14, 2014