Brown, K. R. (2017). Accommodations and support services for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): A national survey of disability resource providers . Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability , 30 (2), 141–156.

Journal Article
Brown, K. R. (2017). Accommodations and support services for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): A national survey of disability resource providers. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 30(2), 141–156.


[no doi reported]; also located on ERIC online database:


Autism; Educator survey; Extended time; Postsecondary; Specialized setting; U.S. context




The accommodations and supports offered to postsecondary students with autism were examined, focusing on incidence rates and patterns across various institutions of higher education. This summary emphasizes accommodations made available during course exams and other grade-related activities.


Disability support services providers at non-profit postsecondary education programs throughout the United States were surveyed, with one professional reporting on their experiences at each institution. There were 469 respondents in all, representing a variety of programs, including public two-year programs such as community colleges and both public and private four-year institutions. Several characteristics were reported about each college or university, such as enrollment, location, organizational structure, and populations of students with disabilities. All respondents served students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Dependent Variable

The online survey, constructed by the researcher, had between 35 and 47 items; the variation in length was based on responses. Demographic data were gathered by 11 items, services were described by responses from 19 items, open-ended comments comprised three items; two routing questions had a potential of up to 12 related items. Prior to DSS personnel responding, the survey was evaluated and improved by use of an expert panel of faculty studying autism and a director of disability services; the survey was also piloted at 20 postsecondary institutions.


Exam accommodations provided to postsecondary students with autism and their frequencies were reported (in descending order): extended time (99.6%), alternative test setting/location (99.1%), and sensory accommodations (93%). These rates were noted to be somewhat higher than the provision of these accommodations for students with disabilities in general. There were no particular groupwise differences in the availability of exam accommodations based on institutional characteristics, such as two-year versus four-year programs or public versus private. The distribution of students with autism across the types of institutions differed: they were most likely to be enrolled in two-year programs, and the average number of students with documentation of autism was higher at four-year public institutions than at four-year private institutions. For the most part, it was difficult to identify what if any factors were associated with postsecondary institutions that provided more autism-specific services and supports. Postsecondary institutions were somewhat more apt to provide sensory accommodations when they had specific supports designed for students with autism, and institutions with more students with autism were only slightly more likely to provide autism-specific services. The researcher also commented on the implications of the overall findings for institutions' practices. Limitations of the study were reported, and future research directions were suggested.