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Calls to Action

‘Costs of Autism’ Summit

March 20, 2012

Goldman Sachs, in collaboration with Autism Speaks and the Child Development Centre of Hong Kong, will convene an international conference, Investing in our Future: The Economic Costs of Autism, on March 31. The conference will feature leading autism experts who will exchange views and research on autism economics including how access to appropriate and timely intervention can dramatically reduce economic costs to families and society.

This inaugural summit will present the early findings of a major study being funded by Autism Speaks with guidance and technical assistance from the World Health Organization. The “Estimating the Economic Costs of Autism” study will deliver the latest information on autism’s economic impact across the United States and the United Kingdom. This information will replace outdated cost estimates and is expected to be referenced in all future autism public health literature. Its lead authors are David Mandell, Sc.D., of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and Martin RJ Knapp, Ph.D., of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

 “Autism is a global public health crisis and we're grateful to the government of Hong Kong for its support in raising awareness,” says Bob Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks. “The costs are staggering and will continue to rise with prevalence. We know that early diagnosis and treatment are critical, so we encourage other governments around the world to follow the leadership of this study group in addressing the urgent need for more awareness and action. The investment we make now is essential to reducing the long term costs of autism.” 

Also being presented are the results of a Hong Kong-based study on the stress levels endured by parents of children with autism spectrum disorder. The results of both studies will suggest ways to improve services and enhance public health policy.

“The new cost estimates we’re seeing underscore our urgency to reduce this burden by providing effective services and treatments to help people with autism reach their full potential and live productive lives,” says Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Geri Dawson, Ph.D. “We are especially concerned because families often bear the burden of these costs.” 

Adds Elizabeth Chen, managing director of Goldman Sachs in Hong Kong: “Through the partnership with the Child Development Centre and Autism Speaks, we hope to bring to light the importance of caring for and awareness of autism spectrum disorders.”

The Investing in our Future summit is being held in anticipation of the fifth anniversary of World Autism Awareness Day, April 2, 2012, a day designated by the United Nations to focus the world’s attention on a developmental disorder that affects millions around the world.

Autism Speaks is currently funding a number of studies investigating the economic costs of autism and the benefits of high-quality early intervention and teen/adult transition services. You can explore these and other studies using our Grant Search.