Little is known about accessibility to health care transition (HCT) services for youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This study expands our understanding by examining the receipt of HCT services in youth with ASD compared with youth with other special health care needs (OSHCN).


We used the 2005–2006 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs to examine receipt of HCT services for youth (aged 12–17 years) with ASD and youth with OSHCN. Logistic regression analyses explored whether individual, family, or health system factors were associated with receipt of HCT services for youth with ASD.


Whereas half of youth with OSHCN received HCT services, less than a quarter of youth with ASD did. Only 14% of youth with ASD had a discussion with their pediatrician about transitioning to an adult provider, less than a quarter had a discussion about health insurance retention, and just under half discussed adult health care needs or were encouraged to take on appropriate responsibility. Logistic regression analyses indicated that having a developmental disability or multiple health conditions in addition to ASD and quality of health care were strong predictors of HCT, whereas demographic and family variables accounted for little variance.


Youth with ASD experience disparities in access to HCT services. Youth with comorbid conditions are at greatest risk for poor access to HCT services and increased quality of care has a positive effect. Research is needed to understand barriers to care and develop policy and practice guidelines tailored for youth with ASD.

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