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Because of the trend to move people with disabilities out of institutions and to provide children with a free appropriate public education, and also because of the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, individuals with developmental disabilities have begun to experience greater integration into community settings. Integration into health care services, however, has had a problematic history. Barriers to accessing health care for children with disabilities and chronic illnesses have increased and become more complex. Some families report that physicians and dentists already practice in a manner that meets the needs of their patients with developmental disabilities. However, a service delivery gap remains. Important topics in medical and dental studies include (a) understanding specific developmental disabilities and their impact on health and medical/dental management, (b) understanding how to work with individuals with developmental disabilities, (c) using principles of family-centered care, and (d) knowing when to refer to specialists.

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