Academic Support: Academic support includes: additional tutoring support; study skills support; writing and editing skills support; test preparation; study groups or sessions; designated study areas for program participants; and academic advising, counseling, or coaching. Academic counseling may consist of additional assistance with class registration or degree selection. Priority registration is also considered academic support.
Accommodations: Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and any state-specified disability laws require that all colleges and universities provide accommodations. Accommodations that qualify may include, but are not strictly limited to: priority registration; readers, note-takers, or scribes; assistive technology; specialized equipment; interpreters or steno captioning; extra time on tests and other testing accommodations; and alternate media. A college or university is not required to lower or substantially modify essential requirements of a course or program.
Parents should know that accommodations were developed when learning disabilities, but not autism, were a prime consideration. Thus, such things as social support are not among required accommodations. In fact, only three and a half percent of schools have social support and other autism-specific services.
Affiliated support services: These programs or services for students with autism or other learning differences are managed by private organizations affiliated with the institution. ASD Ascend does not promote affiliate support services. These programs are limited in scope and represent only a small portion of overall programs available for students with disabilities. ASD Ascend only includes programs for students with autism or services that benefit students with autism that are managed exclusively by the institution.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, state and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications. It also applies to the United States Congress. An individual with a disability is defined by the ADA as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered.
Bronze Badge: Bronze achievement programs are not exclusive to students with autism and include students with other disabilities. These programs have at least one additional support feature that would benefit students with autism, but these programs do not have social skills assistance.
Career education: Career support includes: workshops or classes that discuss interview skills, resume writing, and job counseling. These programs are intended for program participants and not the general student population. Some programs require students to obtain an internship as a prerequisite for graduation.
Daily living skills: Daily living skills include instruction or guidance on skills like cleaning, cooking, and clothing care. Daily living skills also may include instruction on self-care, such as: sleep, hygiene, exercise, nutrition, stress management, medication management, and budgeting. This may also be listed as a discussion topic in support groups.
Eligibility: Universities must include language that explains that some programs require students to register with disability services, which means that the student could have a disability that is not specifically autism. Some schools require participants to have a specific autism or similar diagnosis. Some schools do not require any documented disability to participate in the program.
Executive functioning: Executive functioning support includes: time management skills, task initiation, organization and planning, self-monitoring, decision-making and prioritization, stress management, flexibility, test taking skills support, sustained attention, and goal-directed persistence.
FERPA: FERPA stands for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. FERPA is a federal law that grants parents the right to access their children’s education records, the right to seek to have the records amended, and the right to have some control over the disclosure of personally identifiable information from the education records. When a student turns eighteen years old or enters a postsecondary institution at any age, the rights under FERPA transfer from the parents to the student. See this document for nuances and details.
Financial aid: Financial aid is any form of funding from a public or private source that helps students pay for college. This funding may be offered as loans, grants, or scholarships, such as the AAHD Frederick J. Krause Scholarship, the Autism Can Do Scholarship, the Lisa Higgins Hussman Scholarship, and the Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarship. Note: Some programs for students with autism do not meet federal guidelines. Because of this, students are unable to receive federal funding to attend those programs. Please inquire with the college or university to see if its program meets federal guidelines for financial aid eligibility.
Gold badge: Gold achievement programs are not exclusive to students with autism and include students with other disabilities. These programs have a social skills component and at least one additional support feature that would benefit students with autism. Gold achievement programs have a designated program coordinator or similar administrator.
Mental health services: Mental health services refers to services that are specifically for students with autism. Mental health services are also noted if there is evidence that therapists have experience in working with people with autism. Mental health support includes individual or group therapy that is offered within the program. Note: General mental health services are typically offered on all college campuses for all enrolled students.
Office of Student Disability Services: Because the government mandates that schools provide accommodations for students with disabilities, every college or university has a designated office to handle these requests from students. These offices provide a wealth of resources for students with disabilities and often provide disability-awareness training for faculty and staff.
On-call assistance: On-call assistance includes having a designated place or person students can go to when difficult situations on campus arise. This support is available during regular business hours and should include after-hours assistance as well. On-call assistance is usually offered by more comprehensive programs. On-call assistance is provided by program staff.
Parent component: Parent components provide education on how to assist students in transitioning to college and adulthood. Program directors may communicate periodically with the parents about their child’s progress.
Peer mentoring: Peer mentors are either volunteer or paid undergraduate or graduate students who provide one-on-one academic or social support to students. Peer mentors may provide additional support by introducing students to clubs and other on-campus initiatives and helping students acclimate to campus.
PEERS® Curriculum:The Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®) is an evidence-based social skills treatment program for children and young adults with autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, depression, and other social or emotional issues. Developed at UCLA by Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson, it now is taught throughout the world. In order for schools teach the PEERS® curriculum, they must first receive certification.
Platinum badge: Platinum achievement programs are exclusive to students with autism. These programs have a social skills component and at least one additional support feature beyond standard college accommodations. Platinum badge programs have a designated program coordinator or similar administrator.
Residential living: Residential support refers to a residential arrangement that provides additional support for students with autism. It may include the option of having a single room or rooming with another program participant.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973: Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, mandates that colleges and universities provide any state-specified disability accommodations. Accommodations that qualify under Section 504 may include, but are not strictly limited to: priority registration; readers, note-takers, or scribes; assistive technology; specialized equipment; interpreters or steno captioning; testing accommodations; and alternate media.
Self-advocacy skills: Self-advocacy skills empower students to advocate for themselves rather than program staff members solving problems on behalf of the student. This instruction or support includes teaching students how to ask faculty for accommodations due to having autism or being on the autism spectrum.
Silver badge: Silver achievement programs are exclusive to students with autism. These programs fall into three categories: programs that have only a social skills component, programs that have two or more support components but no social skills assistance, and programs that have several components, including social skills assistance, but no program coordinator.
Social skills support: Social skills support assists students with building relationships with peers, roommates, faculty, and administration. Support is given in: verbal and non-verbal communication, initiating and maintaining conversations, senses of humor, emotional control, theory of mind, social reciprocity, response inhibition, idioms and figurative language, inferences, and understanding levels of friendship. This assistance might be given in weekly meetings. Social skills support may also include planned events and social opportunities with other individuals or groups in order to encourage students to become involved on campus.
State vocational rehabilitation office: State vocational rehabilitation offices provide employment-related resources for people with disabilities, including: education, referrals to employers, internship opportunities, and training in telework.
Transition to college program: A transition to college program orients students to college in order to ease them into the campus environment. These programs range in length from a half day to several days or weeks. Most occur prior to the fall semester, although some take place during the semester.
TRiO program: TRiO programs are federally funded support programs at college. Some of the programs are geared toward students with disabilities. For the purposes of this database, we have excluded TRiO programs.
Workforce Recruitment Program: The Workforce Recruitment Program for College Students with Disabilities recruits and refers college students and recent graduates with disabilities to federal and private employers for summer, temporary, or permanent employment. This program provides participants the opportunity to market their skills to a wide variety of employers throughout the country who are looking to hire students or recent graduates with disabilities.