According to an estimate in Newsweek magazine, it could cost more than $3 million to care for an autistic person over the course of his or her lifetime. For many families, the financial burden is not the only cost.
Jesse and Anna sold their home and moved in with Anna's mother so they could afford their son's therapy and medical treatment. "We had to make that choice for Adam," Jesse says. "I loved that house. I remember walking out, and I just looked at that house for one last time. It was almost like looking at my life that could have been."
The stress of raising an autistic child also takes a toll on many marriages. Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism advocacy organization, reports that the divorce rate within the autism community is staggering. According to their research, 80 percent of all marriages end. Michele's first marriage was one of them.
"Having a child who needs what Danson needs made it really difficult for me to balance my life and be a mother and have a job and be a wife," Michele says. "I didn't give that marriage what I could have because I had nothing left to give."
Now, Michele says she and her ex-husband are best friends, and she's happily remarried. "My husband, Michael, came in and made this choice to love us and to be with us," she says. "He's a calming force in Danson's life."