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"... the most important considerations in devising educational programs for children with autistic spectrum disorders have to do with recognition of the autism spectrum as a whole, with the concomitant implications for social, communicative, and behavioral development and learning, and with the understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the individual child across areas of development."
—Educating Children with Autism2001

An accommodation allows a disabled student to complete the same tests and assignments as his non-disabled peers, but with changes in timing, formatting, setting, scheduling, response and/or presentation. Accommodations are intended to minimize or even eliminate the effects of the student’s disability. In essence, they level the playing field so a disabled student is given more equal footing with his non-disabled peers.

Accommodations are available to a student who has an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or Section 504 Plan. Specific accommodations are chosen to meet each student’s individual needs and are determined by the IEP Team. Whenever possible, it is important to ask the student which accommodations would be helpful, and to include him in the discussion. 

Download the Maryland Assessment, Accessibility, and Accommodations Policy Manual

Accommodations are commonly categorized in the following four ways:
Presentation Accommodations, see page 4-25 in the MSDE Accommodations Manual
Response Accommodations, see page 4-38 in the MSDE Accommodations Manual
Timing and Scheduling Accommodations, see page 4-55 in the MSDE Accommodations Manual

Below are accommodations that have been helpful for students on the autism spectrum.

Sensory Processing
  • Using a "sensory diet" throughout day
  • Providing seat cushion for attention and postural control
  • Providing slant board for desk work
  • Allow student to stand (if necessary) to complete work
  • Providing hand-over-hand support for fine motor activities
  • Allow motor breaks throughout the day
  • Using multi-sensory cues


Behavior Management
  • Using visual cues (PECS, words, charts, cards) to review rules
  • Using daily visual reinforcement program for self-monitoring
  • Providing immediate feedback using verbal or gestural cues
  • Using token board or behavioral contract
  • Using a coping card with behavioral coping options
  • Using prompt hierarchy (emphasizing visual and gestural prompts rather than verbal

  • Using visual aids (PECS, words, cards, charts) to augment comprehension
  • Modifying lessons to emphasize essential concepts for master

Reading and Handwriting

  • Human reader
  • Audiotapes
  • Books on tape
  • Recorded books
  • Providing keyboard to take notes
  • Scribe
  • Providing Electronic Note-takers
  • Providing Word Processors or Alpha-Smart for writing

Attention, Organization, Work-Study Skills

  • Have student repeat back directions
  • Provide task analysis for multi-step tasks
  • Break large chunks of work into smaller parts
  • Using graphic/visual organizers (e.g., organizational, attentional issues)
  • Providing notes for lessons in (subject)
  • Providing outlines for lessons in (subject)
  • Using visual cues (PECS, words, charts, cards) to review schedule, expectations
  • Ensuring that student writes homework assignments legibly
  • Ensuring student has homework assignments and materials before departure
  • Providing study carrel for independent work
  • Providing dividers for independent work
  • Providing preferential seating
  • Providing seating away from distractions
  • Providing seating away from doors (e.g., hallway traffic, noises)
  • Providing seating without visual distraction in visual field (windows, etc.)
  • Structuring for minimal auditory distraction
  • Providing task analyses; breaking down goals into small steps
  • Using manipulative materials to increase participation in learning experience
  • Providing peer tutoring/paired work assignment

Social Maturity and Reasoning
  • Using social stories
  • Providing role modeling (e.g., social skills)
  • Providing peer modeling from socially competent peers
  • Providing adult modeling
  • Providing social skills training during recess and free time periods

Emotional and Self-Regulation
  • Designating a "safe" or "quiet" place in classroom
  • Using a "break" card for breaks
  • Using visual markers, tape, etc. to designate boundaries
  • Modifying length and content of assignments
  • Decreasing work load for school work or homework

Improving the educational experiences and outcomes of students on the autism spectrum in grades K-12

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