The Costs of Childhood ADHD

Medically Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on April 07, 2021
3 min read

Taking care of kids can be pricey. But when you have a child with ADHD, the costs may be even higher thanks to regular doctor visits, prescription medications, and therapy. Then there are hidden fees, or ones you probably don’t really think about, like replacing lost school supplies and sports equipment.

One study found raising a child with the condition is five times more expensive on average. The total was $15,036 compared with $2,848. Here’s a look at some of the expenses associated with childhood ADHD.

Your child will likely need prescription medication, along with behavioral therapy, to help them manage symptoms. That means regular trips to the doctor and therapist’s office. The breakdown:

Doctor visits. The average out-of-pocket cost can range from several hundred dollars to over $2,700. This depends, in part, on who’s treating your child and the types of neuropsychological testing they do. It’ll likely be a pediatrician, child psychiatrist, and a psychologist. Most insurance companies pay for basic doctor visits. But they may not cover extensive evaluations, which can cost thousands of dollars.

Drugs. Without insurance or discounts, medication can range from $8 to $288 a month. For example, commonly prescribed generic stimulants cost about $187.97 for one month’s supply before insurance kicks in. Your copay depends on your insurance plan, if you have one.

Therapy. Behavioral therapy is an important part of ADHD treatment. But it can cost anywhere from $200 to $2,000, depending on the therapist, program, and the number of sessions. Insurance may cover part of it. Most plans pay for 20 behavioral therapy sessions a year.

The same study found that parents spent an average of $12,188 more per child overall on expenses not related to treatment. Some of these included:

Accidents and injury.Teens with ADHD tend to have higher car accident rates. This leads to out-of-pocket expenses to fix damage. Added to fines, tickets, and higher car insurance premiums, that’s an average of $290.

Academic support. An average of $686 was spent on educational software, tutoring, and extra books.

Lost belongings.Kids with ADHD often lose belongings and school supplies that need to be replaced. This costs an average of $118.

These parents also spent almost $3,000 more on child care. And they reported over $10,000 in lost income. This was due to being fired, changing job responsibilities, or missing work while trying to manage their child’s condition.

The good news is there are things you can do to lighten the financial load. They include:

Ask the school district to test your child. Ask your school’s principal for an educational evaluation in writing. Be sure to include the school psychologist or guidance counselor, and the head of special education. If they agree and the evaluation shows your child has ADHD that impacts their ability to learn, the school is required by federal law to help. That means providing behavioral therapy and other support. You can then send the evaluation to your child’s pediatrician or psychiatrist, who can review and prescribe medication.

Shop around for prescriptions. Pharmaceutical companies often have medication assistance programs to help with medication costs. Some websites help you find the best prices for prescription drugs and offer coupons. The national nonprofit Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) offers a free discount prescription card as a membership benefit that has a savings benefit of up to 75%.

Look into low-cost clinics. Your city or county may have mental health centers that can help with ADHD evaluation and treatment on a sliding scale. The amount you pay is based on your income. Some hospital-based clinics also offer services on a sliding scale or treatment by interns or residents (brand new doctors) at a lower cost.