The Cost of Autism
Publish Date: 8 September 2015

First published by Suria KLCC on September, 2014.

In Malaysia, awareness of autism has increased in the last few years but do we know how much it costs for an average parent or family to look after an autistic child?

It is estimated by the Autism Society of America (ASA) that it costs a maximum of US$80,000 (RM251,075.12) a year to care for an autistic child. Broken down it amounts to US$6,666.70 per month (RM20,992.90).

This cost covers:
1. Early intervention
2. Physiotherapy
3. Speech therapy
4. Behavioral therapy
5. Occupational therapy

In Malaysia, the cost of living is much lower but having living expenses coupled with the additional cost of raising an autistic child may cause an unbearable burden for an average family.

For example, speech therapy and physiotherapy costs as much as RM100 per session, and a child needs at least one session a week. This frequency of sessions is often beyond the means of an average Malaysian family.

The Cost of Running a Centre for Autistic Individuals

NASOM runs 19 centres for children with autism throughout the country, and it is also part of the ASEAN autism network. NASOM provides a wide range of services, from diagnosing, assessment and evaluation to early intervention programmes that include therapies to counselling for parents and families. They also run a transition programme to prepare the children for formal schooling.

Every month, NASOM’s expenditure can go up to as high as RM180,000, where the money is used to cover Intensive Early Intervention Programme (one-to-one teacher-pupil ratio teaching for children from ages two to five), Early Intervention Programme (1:3 teacher-pupil ratio teaching for children aged five and above), Elementary class (ages seven to 12) and Vocational training for young adults aged 14 and above.

With this in mind, NASOM needs our help to keep their centres up and running, and to continue providing autistic individuals with training and therapy that will enable them to care for themselves and to learn marketable vocational skills which will allow them opportunities of job placements in future.

Visit Suria KLCC, Alamanda or Mesra Mall from 2 – 30 September to learn more about autism and how you can contribute to NASOM.

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