Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 49, Issue 12, pp 4877–4890 | Cite as

College Access, Success and Equity for Students on the Autism Spectrum

  • Amy L. AccardoEmail author
  • Kimberly Bean
  • Barbara Cook
  • Ann Gillies
  • Rebecca Edgington
  • S. Jay Kuder
  • Estyr M. Bomgardner


College may be considered a gateway to success, yet access to college is limited for young adults with autism. Given the research recommendations to elicit student experiences and to communicate among universities to improve college access, success, and equity, the present study examined the questions: What factors are perceived as pathways to success or barriers to success by college students on the autism spectrum? What university provided accommodations and/or support services do they prefer? Participants from four universities completed surveys and semi-structured interviews. Findings from the multi-university study suggest the need to provide transition planning and systematic non-academic social and emotional supports from the start of the college experience as well as specific training for faculty, staff, and peers.


Autism spectrum disorder College University Accommodations Mental health 


Author Contributions

ALA and SJK conceived of the study. ALA and SJK carried out the study at the first university, KB and BC carried out the study at a second university, AG carried out the study at a third university and RE carried out the study at a fourth university. ALA led the manuscript preparation with all authors contributing. KB and BC led the coding of data. EMB participated in data entry and analysis. All authors read and approved of the final manuscript.


No financial support was given for this research.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amy L. Accardo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kimberly Bean
    • 2
  • Barbara Cook
    • 3
  • Ann Gillies
    • 4
  • Rebecca Edgington
    • 5
  • S. Jay Kuder
    • 1
  • Estyr M. Bomgardner
    • 1
  1. 1.College of EducationRowan UniversityGlassboroUSA
  2. 2.School of EducationSouthern Connecticut State UniversityNew HavenUSA
  3. 3.School of Health and Human ServicesSouthern Connecticut State UniversityNew HavenUSA
  4. 4.Colorado Mesa UniversityGrand JunctionUSA
  5. 5.Eastern Illinois UniversityCharlestonUSA

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