Raising Children on the Spectrum Means Crushing Debt for Many Americans

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NFCC® Recognizes Autism Awareness Month With Financial Tips for Parents.

National Foundation for Credit Counseling

Managing household finances can be stressful even in the absence of a crisis, but the challenges become more significant when caring for a child who requires special care.”

In a recent survey commissioned by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), seven out of ten Americans revealed that they have worries about their finances. Typical among those concerns were lack of savings and job security, but for parents who are raising children with developmental needs the concerns are more pressing. According to research funded by Autism Speaks, the lifetime cost for an individual with autism averages $2.4 million when accompanied by an intellectual disability. For others, the cost averages $1.4 million. Compare those figures to the $245,340 estimated national average and it becomes hard to imagine how parents of children with autism are able to make ends meet.

“Managing household finances can be stressful even in the absence of a crisis,” said Bruce McClary, spokesperson for the NFCC. “The challenges become more significant when caring for a child who requires special care.”

There are some ways to find support that helps ease the pressure on household finances. Here are some resources that may help:

Community Support – Depending on location, availability of affordable resources for children and parents can vary. It is a good idea to check first with community health services for low or no cost care. There may also be some local support groups that can provide an environment for the exchange of ideas with others who are facing similar challenges. In the absence of local groups there are a number of online services such as MyAutismTeam, a social media support network for parents.

Medical Insurance Advocacy – Health care costs are a significant budget item for parents of children with autism. Even in situations where there may be reliable coverage, there are times when it is necessary to negotiate with a provider to settle issues with access to care, medical debt, and job retention related to an illness. Nonprofit groups like the Patient Advocate Foundation can offer guidance and support in those situations.

Financial Coaching – Maintaining a stable and healthy environment at home is difficult when the stress of debt is in the way. Medical bills, credit card debt, mortgage payments, and daily household expenses can make it hard to manage the other stresses of parenting. There are a number of helpful resources online or in the community that can provide much needed counseling and support in this area.

Member agencies of the NFCC are able to provide financial counseling in-person, by phone, or online. To reach a certified financial counselor today, consumers can call (800) 388-2227 or visit http://www.nfcc.org.


The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest serving national nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services. NFCC members annually help millions of consumers through more than 600 community-based offices nationwide. For free and affordable confidential advice through a reputable NFCC member, call (800) 388-2227, (en Español (800) 682-9832) or visit http://www.nfcc.org.

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