Is Raising A Kid With Special Needs Making You Broke?
Families with children who have autism earn an average of $18,000 less than those with typically-developing children, says a new study. The reason for the income divide: moms of kids with autism are too busy caring for them to make major contributions to the family bank account. Sadly, this news won’t come as a shock to many parents.
Researchers tracked household employment data for 261 families with kids who have an autism spectrum disorder, 2,921 families that have kids with other health limitations, and 64,349 with so-called typical kids, work done by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the Center for Autism Research at the Children’s Hopsital of Philadelphia. Moms of kids with ASDs earned a whopping 56 percent less than moms of kids with no health limitations; the dads’ paychecks were not impacted. On average, families who have children with ADS take in 27 percent less pay than those of kids with no health issues.
“Mothers are often the primary caregiver and decisionmaker, and therefore have to devote considerable personal resources to obtaining health care services for their children,” said Zuleyha Cidav, Ph.D., the lead author of the study. “It is not surprising that, because of these additional responsibilities, these women are less likely to work.”
The study only examined families of children with autism, but I’ll bet the same would apply to parents who have kids with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, genetic conditions and other disabilities. In fact, yesterday this message cropped up in a cerebral palsy online group I’m part of: “My husband and I just had our millionth discussion about finances. We never expected for me not to work, but there’s no way I can right now with the school and therapy schedule….”
I went back to my full-time job four months after my son, Max, had a stroke at birth that caused his cerebral palsy. I work because I enjoy what I do (I’m a magazine editor) and also because I have to bring in income for my family and for the equipment and many therapies insurance doesn’t cover. Since 2009, I’ve been freelancing. Last month, I turned down a five-day-a-week gig because I need Fridays to catch up on Max’s schoolwork, paperwork (hello, insurance insanity) and take him to therapy (although I do not want others to pity me for this).
Meanwhile, I hope there’s no backlash of work discrimination against moms of kids with autism or other special needs as a result of the study. What I most want (besides more hours in a day and a second pair of hands) are companies that provide flex-time—for all parents, yes, but especially for those of us with kids who need extra care.
How about you: How has having a child with special needs affected your family’s finances?
From my other blog:
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Tags: autism, Center for Autism Research study on autism and income, health, Moms Of Kids With Autism Earn Less, Perelman School of Medicine study of autism and income | Categories: Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Children With Special Needs, Disability, Down Syndrome, Must Read, SPD, Special Needs, Special Needs Parenting, To The Max