The annual cost to families in Ireland of caring for a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is €28,000, according to a new study.

The study was carried out by researchers at NUI Galway, which took into account lost income and informal care provided to the children.

The survey involved 195 families with 222 children aged between 2 and 18 with clinically diagnosed ASD.

The research also found that more than €14,000 of State-funded services are used each year by every child with ASD.

In families with more than one child with ASD or children who are more severely affected, the cost is considerably greater it was found.

The survey found that 15% of children with ASD that were questioned were living in lone parent families.

The study published this week in the journal, Autism - The International Journal of Research and Practice, offers a case for significant increases in State funding for services.

Lead author, Áine Roddy from the JE Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway, said it showed access to necessary services here is overly dependent on the ability of families to pay for them.

The work was undertaken by NUI Galway in collaboration with staff from the Centre of Public Health in Queens University Belfast, and was funded by the Irish Research Council and Autism Ireland.