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Study: Cost of Raising a Child with ADHD is Five Times the Norm

The parents of children with ADHD spend more than $15,000 on private tutoring, assistive software, lost belongs, accidents, and time off of work — more than five times the amount spent by neurotypical families, according to a new study by the Center for Children and Families at Florida International University.

April 8, 2019

A new study published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology1 says that raising a child with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) costs American families five times more than raising a child without ADHD — and that’s not even taking into consideration treatment expenses.

Researchers from the Center for Children and Families at Florida International University drew data from a longitudinal sample of 14- to 17-year-old participants in western Pennsylvania. They assessed the economic burden associated with raising a child diagnosed with ADHD by collecting parent questionnaires. Among the costs assessed were direct costs related to a child’s behaviors, not including treatment expenses, plus indirect costs related to caregiver strains.

The total economic burden per child with ADHD was $15,036. Neurotypical families in the control group reported spending $2,848 per child on average — a difference that remained even after controlling for intellectual functioning, oppositional defiant symptoms, and conduct problems. The following contributed to the economic strain reported by families affected by ADHD:

  • Academic and behavioral difficulties in the classroom that resulted in private tutoring or advanced assistive software
  • Lost belongings, missed lessons, and abandoned extracurricular activities that have already been paid for
  • A higher rate of car accidents and delinquency among teens with ADHD
  • Parental income loss due to being fired, missing work, and/or treatment for their own mental health

These results extend previous estimates of the annual societal cost of illness (COI) of ADHD, likely because this was the first study to factor in costs associated with academic, social, and behavioral challenges. Lead study author Xin Alisa Zhao said, “A comprehensive understanding of the financial burden of raising a child with ADHD is a vital aspect of advocating for, justifying, and planning interventions for families of children with ADHD.”2

Footnotes

Zhao, X., Page, T.F., Altszuler, A.R. et al. Family Burden of Raising a Child with ADHD. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. (Feb. 2019) https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10802-019-00518-5

Raising a child with ADHD costs five times more than raising a child without ADHD, study finds. FIU News. (Apr. 2019) https://news.fiu.edu/2019/04/raising-a-child-with-adhd-costs-five-times-more-than-raising-a-child-without-adhd-study-finds/132270

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