Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that affects communication, social interaction, and behavior. As a spectrum disorder, ASD impacts individuals differently and to varying degrees. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in 36 children have autism. Over a third of children with autism experience intellectual disabilities.
Many parents of children with autism worry about what could happen if they can no longer provide care and financial support. Improving financial literacy is essential for many with autism in gaining independence and preparing for adulthood.
People With Autism Can Face Financial Challenges
Money management is a significant barrier and source of stress for young people with autism and their families, the Adult Autism Center of Lifetime Learning reports. Childhood therapies and interventions typically focus on reading and verbal literacy, social skills, and behaviors without much emphasis on money management – even though many with autism struggle with overspending and can feel overwhelmed about budgeting, using bank accounts, and saving.
While many young people with ASD desire financial independence, research suggests that they tend to be less financially literate than others, and few young adults with autism have personal bank accounts, per Autism at-a-Glance.
Benefits of Financial Literacy for Young People With Autism
Learning about money has long-term benefits for children and young adults with ASD. When individuals with autism gain money management skills, they are more likely to have success at school and work. Financial literacy can also improve mental well-being and future income for some young adults on the spectrum.
Teaching Financial Skills to Children and Young Adults With Autism
Financial education can take different forms depending on the age and abilities of the child or young adult. Beginning financial education at an early age can help children with autism develop financial literacy in adulthood. The basics of financial education involve counting and recognizing money. Once students have grasped these concepts, they can move on to more complex topics, such as writing checks and budgeting.
The following strategies could support individuals with autism:
- Visual aids and hands-on activities can help young people with autism learn about money and managing their finances.
- Breaking down complex financial concepts into smaller, more manageable parts can facilitate learning.
- Parents can use real-life scenarios to teach their children financial decision-making. For instance, parents can accompany their children to the bank and provide guidance when setting up accounts. They can also help their children through budgeting.
Withstanding Peer Pressure
Another challenge many with autism face is peer pressure. Others might attempt to take financial advantage of those with ASD because they have trouble understanding social cues. For this reason, the Adult Autism Center of Lifetime Learning recommends that individuals with autism protect themselves by learning to recognize and avoid peer pressure.
Resources for Financial Empowerment
Numerous resources are available to foster financial literacy for young adults with autism:
- Autism-friendly banks - Some banks provide accommodations to those with autism. Regions Bank, for instance, educates its employees about communicating with clients with ASD. The bank also accommodates clients sensitive to sensory stimuli, providing quiet areas and sensory packs with stress balls, earplugs, and sunglasses. Online banking is also accessible.
- Visual budgeting apps - Young adults with autism can use budgeting apps to track their income and spending. Apps that provide visual representations can be beneficial. For example, apps such as MagnusCards and the EveryDollar include features like graphics, step-by-step visual guides, easy-to-read charts, and automatic calculations.
- Programs that teach independence - Programs, such as summer camps and residential programs, can help young people with autism develop independence. According to Psychology Today, parents should seek out programs that teach children life skills such as financial literacy.
Practical Money Skills and Financial Independence
Financial education is essential yet often overlooked for those with autism. Children with autism can benefit from learning about finances early so they are prepared to navigate money matters as adults. Caregivers can play an important role in helping young people with autism gain financial literacy.
Parents can also help their children by setting up financial plans. For instance, they can learn about government benefits available to their children and establish trust funds to provide for them.