Access to specialty medical care among children with mental retardation, autism, or other types of special health care needs was examined. Results from a national survey indicate that over a third of the children with autism, over a fifth with mental retardation, and over a fifth with other types of special health care needs had problems obtaining needed care from specialty doctors in the preceding year. The most common problems included getting referrals and finding providers with appropriate training. Children with unstable health conditions, autism, or those whose parent was in poor health were at greater risk for problems. Primary Medicaid coverage and public secondary health coverage were associated with fewer access problems. Implications for health services for children with special health care needs are discussed.

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