Sunday, March 25, 2012

Implications of Childhood Autism for Parental Employment and Earnings

Zuleyha Cidav, PhDa,b, Steven C. Marcus, PhDc,d, and David S. Mandell, ScDa,b

Center for Mental Health Policy & Services Research, Perelman School of Medicine and
School of Social Policy & Practice, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;

Center for Autism Research, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 

Center for Health Equity Research & Promotion, Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

To examine changes in parental labor force participation, hours of work, and annual earnings associated with childhood autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

We used the 2002–2008 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to examine parental labor market outcomes of children with ASD relative to children with another health limitation and children without health limitations. A logit model was used to estimate parental labor force participation. A tobit model was used to estimate parental hours of work and earnings.

On average, mothers of children with ASD earn 35% ($7189) less than the mothers of children with another health limitation and 56% ($14 755) less than the mothers of children with no health limitation. They are 6% less likely to be employed and work 7 hours less per week, on average, than mothers of children with no health limitation. There were no statistically significant differences in fathers’ labor market outcomes across 3 groups. On average, children with ASD are 9% less likely to have both parents working. Family earnings of children with ASD are 21% ($10 416) less than those of children with another health limitation and 28% ($17 763) less than those of children with no health limitation. Family weekly hours of work are an average of 5 hours less than those of children with no health limitation.

Families of children with ASD face significant economic burden. Given the substantial health care expenses associated with ASD, the economic impact of having lower income in addition to these expenses is substantial. It is essential to design universal health care and workplace policies that recognize the full impact of autism.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pretending to Be Normal

Living With Asperger's Syndrome

Autobiography of a woman and her child diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. Author shares her daily struggles and challenges. Includes appendices providing coping strategies and guidance. For the general reader as well as professionals. Softcover.

Asperger's Syndrome is one of the constellation of conditions known as autism. As both Willey and her young daughter have AS, her life story provides a startling look at how those with the syndrome experience the world.

Willey grew up knowing only that she was somehow different, extremely intelligent, and extremely quirkybut accepted and valuedseems to have been the assessment of her parents, physicians, and others early in her life. Her peculiaritiesinability to find her way in unfamiliar places, and extreme aversion to people coming too close to her, to noise, to confusionbecame a devastating issue when she left home for the unfamiliar environment of college.

From then on, Willey struggled mightily until she reached the safe haven of marriage to an outstandingly sympathetic partner, a fulfilling job teaching college, and motherhood. When her own daughter, one of twins, was diagnosed as an infant with Asperger's Syndrome, Willey immediately recognized herself: Social action impairments, narrow interests, an insistence on repetitive routines, speech and language peculiarities, non-verbal communication problems and motor clumsiness..; each of these symptoms is manifested in a variety of unique and diverse ways.

Willey here compares her own experiences with her daughter's, her daughter's with her twin sister, who doesn't have AS, and the childhood peak in intensity of her daughter's symptoms with her own waning symptoms in middle age.

In her appendices Willey offers extensive practical help and resources to AS sufferers. But even those not directly affected by AS will find this an eye-opening view into a parallel world. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.