Roland L. Elliott, 42, a special assistant to presidents Nixon and Ford between 1971 and 1976, died Friday in a Springfield, Mass., hospital. He had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

During his five years at the White House, Mr. Elliott helped supervise the flow of mail, communications, and presidential correspondence.

Prior to joining the White House staff, he had served for a number of years as director of alumni relations for the University of California at Los Angeles.

Mr. Elliott was born in Bremerton, Wash., and reared in Fresno, Calif. Following Army service, he graduated cum laude from UCLA in 1961.

He had moved to Florence, Mass., three years ago.

He is survived by his wife, Dorothy Case Elliott, and a daughter, Sarah, both of the home; another daughter, Shannon, who is a student at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn; a son, Mark, who is attending Yale University in New Haven, Conn.; his mother, Gladys Florentino, a brother, Andy Florentino and a sister, Marcia Elliott, all of California.

The family suggests that expression of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Society of America, 15330 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, Calif.