What is the DSA Needs Assessment?

The Study Needs Assessment is an important part of the process of claiming Disabled Students Allowance and getting support at university. This activity will explain what the Study Needs Assessment is, how it works and how to prepare for your appointment.


The Needs Assessment is a structured but informal one-to-one discussion with a Needs Assessor. It can last between one and two hours, but you can take breaks if you need them. The Needs Assessor will ask specific questions to learn about you and your needs. This is important. The information you give will help them identify possible support solutions to help you.

How could this affect me?

The Funding including Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA) activity explains why DSA is relevant and important for autistic students, even if you haven’t accessed any study support in the past. The Needs Assessment is not just an essential part of that process, but an opportunity to talk to somebody in depth about:
• the positive and negative aspects of studying in the past
• the positive and negative aspects of any support you have received in the past at home/school/college
• any worries you might have about going to uni
• what you’re excited about and think you will do well at
• what you think might help you achieve that success
You will also get to learn a bit more about the kind of help that is available to you – many students don’t really know much about this and are amazed to find out what is out there and how it may work for them.

What to do next?

Book an appointment with the needs assessment team and prepare for the assessment

Questions to think about

  1. How do you feel about making notes in lectures, where some of what is said may not be written on a whiteboard or the PowerPoint slides?
  2. Would being able to record lectures help you?
  3. How do you make and organise your notes when reading or revising?
  4. Do you find new places easily?
  5. Does it help to have someone with you when you go somewhere for the first time?
  6. What are you most excited about when it comes to your course?
  7. What would you like to know more about or might need support to do before you get excited?
  8. How do you feel about group work?
  9. How do you manage your free time?
  10. Are you always on time for appointments without help from someone else?
  11. Do you like to be in busy, lively places or quiet places?
  12. How do you find out about new topics?
  13. Do you find it easy to organise your ideas and structure them in writing?
  14. Do you find academic writing easy? How about spelling, punctuation and grammar?
  15. Would you like somebody to talk to about your autism who has a good understanding of both autism and university?
  16. Do you have any other conditions like dyslexia, dyspraxia or ADHD?
  17. Does it help you to read information from the internet if you can print it out?
  18. Who supported you with your work at school and what did they do that was helpful?
  19. What helps you when you’re stressed? Music, exercise, art, reading, playing games, talking to others?
  20. Did you use any tools like visual schedules, social stories, coloured overlays, coloured paper or alarms to help you at school or college?
  21. How do you feel about talking to people about your autism, including tutors and other students?

Additional information and links