The parents of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities often have to cut back on or quit work, and once those children reach adulthood they often have a limited earning potential.
Those income losses, plus the price of services can reach more than $2 million across a person’s lifespan, according to USA Today. These costs are on top of the typical costs of care for a developing individual.
Things need to change to bring down the costs for families and society, according to David Mandell, director of research for the Center for Mental Health Policy and Services at the University of Pennsylvania.
Adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities need more job opportunities. There are many small success stories of individuals or small groups of people who are employed, but "we need to be more creative about thinking about employment on a large scale," Mandell said.
Families need more opportunities to stay in the workplace. "If we had more family-friendly workplace policies, we might see substantial change in the way families were able to manage the work-life balance when they had children with (all kinds of) disabilities."
Society needs to take the long view, he said. Spending money diagnosing and helping young children will probably save money when they are older, by reducing disability and improving employability. "We often talk about the cost of care, and we don't spend much time talking about the cost of not caring," he said.