A West Virginia-based cost-benefit analysis provided by consulting economist Jon Hockenyos, Resources for Hope, shows that with early and intensive intervention, 47 percent of those with ASD recover typical function, 40 percent make significant improvement and 13 percent make little progress.
Studies, he said, calculate lifetime expenses --direct and indirect medical and non-medical -- for children who recover typical function at $605,130. For children who receive no treatment, it's $3.4 million. The lifetime per capita societal cost of autism is $3.7 million.
The lifetime societal cost in West Virginia for all children with autism is $1.15 billion, based on only 603 people who might be covered by insurance, he said.
That figure might be low. Nationally, the experts said, about 1 in 110 children born are diagnosed with ASD; in West Virginia it's 1 in 91 births, with ASD for boys more prevalent, at 1 in 30. About 200 West Virginia children per year may be diagnosed.
In 2009 alone, Klingberg had 245 ASD referrals, and 132 were diagnosed, Poe said. The West Virginia Autism Training Center at Marshall U n ive r s i t y works with 1,918 families, said Executive Director Barbara Becker-Cottrill. Since 2004, it has registered anywhere from 150-200 new families per year. Its current clientele includes 93 in Monongalia County, 22 in Preston and 78 in Marion. Sixty percent are 18 or under.
Because autism isn't covered, services are rare in West Virginia, the experts said. Klingberg has a threemonth waiting list. It can be two years at Marshall, which recently got some funding and trimmed its list from 300 to 150 families.
The 23 states that mandate coverage have far more care available, Becker-Cottrill said. Pennsylvania has 484 board certified behavior analysts; Florida has 1,308; New Jersey has 393.
West Virginia has 18.
After South Carolina passed a coverage law, the number of analysts jumped from 18 to 65.
"This creates a job market," she said.