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Mumble

Disabled Students' Allowance

23 posts in this topic

Hmm, not sure if this should go here or in education . . . it kinda fits both I think :unsure: .

 

I was wondering if anyone here has any experience of claiming DSA either themselves as someone with AS, or in supporting someone else with AS to claim it? I'm newly diagnosed with AS etc. so I'm very unsure about all this, but my university are recommending that I claim and will support me through the (another) process. My main rambling questions are:

 

1. How easy/difficult is the process? I went through such a battle trying to get a diagnosis I don't know if I want to go through another battle quite so soon. However it seems to be the way forward in getting support, which leads me on to my next question ...

 

2. What support is available/have others had - does it make a difference? - one of the main discussions at the moment has been that it might help me get a mentor - I think this is good, but I'm not sure what they do and I'm very anxious about meeting someone new.

 

3. How arduous is the needs assessment? What do they ask, how can I prepare for it, will it be specific to me or general to a student with AS?

 

4. Does it matter that I'm a 'mature' (very interesting word choice! :lol::lol::blink::rolleyes::wacko: )student?

 

5. Will claiming DSA have any long term career implications - it's a government fund and I'm concerned about which lists and databases my name will end up in. It's hard enough coping with the bureaucracy of the NT world, without having this to worry about as well - I think what I'm trying to ask is will my name be 'black-listed' as someone expensive and not worth bothering about? :o:unsure::angry:

 

Any advice would be appreciated - thanks.

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I can't really answer many of your questions but being a mature student doesn't make a difference. I'm in the last year of my honours degree and I should really have claimed this from the outset but haven't. But if you're entitled to it and can face some form filling you should go for it. I would probably have wanted someone to go to tutorials with me or in my place as I find that difficult (i'm OU mature student btw). Next year I hope to do a post grad course, maybe I should take my own advice and apply then ! :lol: Best of luck with it.

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Thanks Bikergal :D ,

 

I've been sent some more information from the funding person and the disability support officer at my university and I think, despite the process, form filling, further assessments and and trip to the docs for 'proof' that I'm telling the truth :angry: (hmm, that should be interesting given the struggle to get a diagnosis - I suppose this will be different though seeing as the funding isn't connected to them), I will go ahead and apply. I hadn't realised the extent of the support they provide, and this could really help me (I'm first year of PhD - really enjoyed my undergrad and masters but I think if I had had the sort of support they are talking about now it would have been much easier).

 

At the moment though I'm feeling a bit guilty :unsure: about the claim I would be allowed to make - after all, although it was a horrendous struggle, I have been through mainstream without such support - if I get the DSA (and the disability officer seems to think I will without question given my diagnosis - AS, alexithymia, dyspraxia) I will be able to have my own computer equipment and quite expensive statistical software etc. to use in my own room, that other students have to go to the labs to use (I find these labs almost unbearable mainly because of sensory issues). It worries me that this is an unfair advantage over other students. :(

 

One other question - who are mentors provided by and what training do they have in AS? (I ask because I had a terrible experience with a counsellor who had no understanding and I'm scared about being put in a similar situation).

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My dd has a DSA for her dyslexia and has been given lots of sofyware and computer and tutorials.The LEA are paying out almost �5000.xx

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I am applying for DSA, I was ringing up the universities and LEA about it today and the disability support offered. It has to be applied for in a separate form sent to you when you apply for student finance*

 

*You need to send your application for finance off before a DSA form is returned.

 

I am yet to see how arduous the situation is.

Edited by CEJesson

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We are just starting to apply for J, Mumble, as he has a place at HE college for September if the apprenticeships dont work out. It would be good to keep this thread going to share advice as we are complete beginners at this too. I know we have to do it NOW where we are or it may not come through the 1st term.

 

And DONT feel guilty about getting it - all this is doing is making adjustments for your disability, life is hard enough so claim what you are entitled too.

 

Mods, could this be made into a sticky (unless its already covered of course)

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Hi - Thanks for the replies. I thought I'd update you with my situation and let you know what I've learnt about the process so far . . .

 

(My situation is slightly different in that I'm a mature postgraduate student and that I am funded by a funding coucil through a scholarship not my LEA, and it is the funding coucil who then have to pay the DSA - the process however is esentially the same)

 

After I saw the disability support officer (DSO) who recommended I apply, I was given a leaflet that made the process sound terrible, it listed all sorts of 'evidence' I needed, people I needed to see for letters (GP etc.) and quite frankly served to scare me completely. :tearful: If I didn't have the support of a fantastic supervisor and tutor encouraging me and pointing out how necessary the suport I'd get through the DSA is, I probably wouldn't have got any further :thumbs: .

 

The first stage was for me and my supervisor to write letters to the funding body basically requesting that a DSA assessment of needs (AoN) be carried out. There were no problems in this - once the letters were received it was almost automatically granted.

 

The main stage is the AoN. The DSO said she would find out about people specialised in doing ASD AONs and let me know. I received an email from her with some different names/centres, including one at my university. I checked these out - one claimed to 'assess all disabilities' which immediately concerned me; after searching their website for about half an hour I found one mention of AS within a section subtitled 'Mental Health Issues' :wallbash: . The others specialised in dyslexia assessments, which didn't surprise me as this is what the university mainly deals with - however, because the support needs of ASD individuals are so specific (and in many ways not immediately defined as 'academic') it is essential that the needs assessment is carried out by someone expert in, and sensitive towards the needs of, AS individuals (both so that the assessment is conducted in as least stressful a way as possible and so that the recommendations are specific). I was quite upset by the choices offered - I was quite ready to give up at this point, and this combined with me not coping with my diagnosis led to a very bleak few weeks :tearful: . Thankfully, and I do realise how lucky I am with this, my fantastic supervisor happens to have a friend who is one of the few experts in AS at universities and in conducting AS AoNs. She agreeded to come down to the warmth of the South and conduct my AoN. I don't think my DSO was too impressed by this - I have heard nothing from her since rejecting her offers for the AoN.

 

I had my AoN a month ago. Given that I was so scared about what to expect and what I needed to do to prepare (based on a combination of what my DSO had told me and the leaflet she gave me) my supervisor and needs assessor had to give me a lot of reassurance about what to expect, but because the needs assessor was an expert in AS, she understood that I was concerned and the sort of reassurance I needed, and communicated this by email before she saw me. I didn't need the various evidence in the leaflet - I took along my diagnostic report, samples of my work, and a list of things that were concerning me in order to help structure what I wanted to talk about and to help me if I found it difficult to communicate and make my points clear. The assessment lasted two hours during which we talked through all aspects of university life and also talked about how I had coped (or not) at school, things I found useful, things that I was unhappy about, things I was worried about in the future. I found the assessment, despite my anxiety before it, a very good experience - it was the first time I'd been able to talk to someone who almost understood the difficulties I had and who didn't see my difficulties as trivial. In addition, she was able to put a name to some of the problems I have and explain these as part of my AS (for example my extreme sensitivity to noise).

 

Because the assessor is a friend of my supervisor, she was also able to talk to him at length about my difficulties, both getting further information, and helping him to understand me and how to help me. I know that I am fortunate to have a supervisor who wants to learn about my AS and who is willing to help me as much as he can :):thumbs: . This, unfortunatly, isn't the reaction I've had from other people, who appear to believe I have been diagnosed, not with AS, but with a pre-disposition to spontanious human combustion . . . :angry::angry:

 

A week after my AoN, I was send the draft of the AoN report and asked to comment on it. I took this very literally and sent back several pages of comments! These were however reponded to possitively and changes were made. There are some aspects I still don't understand, but I was too embarrassed to say that I hadn't understood a second time, so I've accepted the report as it is. The report has now been sent to my funding body, and I await their decision.

 

The report runs over 21 pages and gives a very clear picture of my specific difficulties and the support I need. However, the main reccommendations fall under 'equipment' and 'personal support'. Equipment covers ICT equipment including software to help me with planning etc., recording equipment for lectures, wall planners etc. The biggest reccommendations for me come in personal support, where 8 hours a week of mentor & tutor support have been suggested alongside monthly DSO support. The personal support is designed to be both social and academic, as my limited social skills will impinge upon my ability to progress academically. In addition, the report makes reccommendations to my university, including how to support me, a reccommendation that I have halls accommodation for every year of my course (I would definitaly reccommend everyone push for this - it has made a huge difference to me being in hall and not having to cope with the social aspects of flat-sharing, cooking for myself etc.), support with health care, and support with dental care.

 

If these recommendations are accepted, they could make a huge difference to me and how I get on at university. At the moment, I spend all my time working on my study - whilst I really enjoy this, I do want to have friends and to go out socially, and hopefully I will get some support in achieving this. I am however also very scared. What I can't get my university to understand is that if I have three different people, as is reccemended, delivering my support, this increases the total number of people I currently talk to by 150% - 3 more people to most people is nothing - 3 more people to me, when I currently only talk to 2 people, is huge and very very scary. :tearful:

 

Sorry, it's late (or early depending on your perspective) and I've rambled. I hope people can take out something useful from this.

 

Mumble.

Edited by Mumble

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Pinned now - good idea, pearl!

 

I don't think the subject has been covered before - I couldn't find anything else.

 

K x

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Hi guys

This arrived in my inbox today, thought it might be helpful xx

 

Dear Mrs x

 

Ian forwarded me your e-mail asking for how to begin the DSA process. Basically the most important thing is to start the process of applying for Student Finance for HE. Both J and yourselves need to log onto the Web Site at www.studentsupportdirect.co.uk Unfortunately when I tried to log on today the site was temporarily unavailable. (Edit 21/4/07 - he'd given me wrong address :rolleyes: I've corrected it now.

 

After registering on the system, J will be given an ID number which he will need to pass on to you so that you can enter confidential details of salaries etc. He will need to indicate that he is applying for a DSA as he completes the sections of the student finance form which is now done completely on-line.

 

After filling the initial form in, he will find a form called a DSA1 form on the same web-page, which he will need to down-load, complete and return to:

 

 

 

(your local office)

 

 

Along with this form, he will need to send evidence of his learning disability such as an Educational Psychologist?s report.

 

 

 

After this the LEA will write to J and authorise him to go for an Assessment of Need. At this stage, J should contact me as I will need to fill in the relevant forms with him.

 

 

 

I hope this is clear. Please don?t hesitate to contact me by return e-mail or by phone if it isn?t.

 

Thanks.

 

A N

Edited by pearl

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Thanks Pearl for this -

 

I have applied for DSA, and supplied my statement of special needs education which confirms when my diagnosis was given. As you have already seen I am having an assessment in Lincoln on Tuesday:)

 

That reminds me - I have to let my university have evidence of my autism at some point for the accommodation process.

 

Chris

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I would just emphasise how important it is to apply for DSAs early. Apply with your student finance, and be wary that the dislosure process of telling people you have a disability is far different with DSA. The knowledge of this remains between you, student finance and your university disability department. Should you wish to disclose to other areas of university once arrived, that again is at your discretion.

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I would just emphasise how important it is to apply for DSAs early. Apply with your student finance, and be wary that the dislosure process of telling people you have a disability is far different with DSA. The knowledge of this remains between you, student finance and your university disability department. Should you wish to disclose to other areas of university once arrived, that again is at your discretion.

Completely agree - I've just changed funding (or rather I now have none... *where's the 'eek' emoticon?!*) but could still apply through SFE for DSA. I got mine in early and in went through fine, my uni know me well and I had a lot of help with the forms, but one issue that cropped up was disclosure - SFE wouldn't talk to my uni about my application because that would involve disclosure, but I couldn't talk to them, and things got really awkward for a while - great system of confidentiality, just a little too inflexible given people they would be dealing with! :huh:

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I've been told that 'as my needs haven't changed my DSA wont' but this is after i told them about

suspected hypermobility. I'm really cross but as ive put down my student mentor to 'speak on my behalf

regarding DSA matters' she is going to chase this up for me.

 

I've now got 2 diagnosis letters of hypermobility, 1 from my rhematologist (appointment due to see him on

Halloween) another from my physiotherapist. i was hoping they would be enough to convince the DSA people

that a new assessment is needed? I'm asking for a reassessment 'due to a recent diagnosis of hypermobility

syndrome to check that the equipment is suitable for me'.

 

i am hoping to get a lightweight laptop for a number of reasons, 1, i sometimes work better when im out of

my house with my family and i can work whilst being around them. 2, can take notes for university mentoring

and certain parts of my volunteer work. 3, support at the university is sporadic and support workers

forget to send me the notes from tutorials which defeats the object of them attending.

 

im also wondering if i need a PDA or if my PC chair can be changed under DSA?

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I'm now in the process of appliying for DSA. The form doesn't look too arduous, but I'm just unsure on section 3, which asks for details of your disability.

 

You have to provide documented evidence of the diagnoses separately, which I can get hold of without a problem. I know they want a full diagnostic assessment for the Asperger's, which I have. But for physical disability/mental health, do they just want confirmation of diagnosis, or more details on how it affects me?

 

But there is a box about half of an A4 page and it asks you to "give full details and provide evidence of your disability . . . "

So do I just list my diagnoses in the box and supply the evidence, or do I have to go into detail about the types of difficulties my disabilities cause?

There is a whole page at the back for "additional notes," so I'm worried I'm meant to write more than I have done.

 

I don't really know what kinds of things I want from DSA anyway. The only thing I can think of so far that I might need is a permit to park in the staff car park, as the student parking is a very long way away from the classrooms and the staff car park is right next to them. But that's something I need to ask the college for, I don't think DSA can do that for me.

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I'm now in the process of applying for DSA. The form doesn't look too arduous, but I'm just unsure on section 3, which asks for details of your disability.

As far as I can remember, they don't need a lot. It's nothing like DLA. I think I listed the conditions I was applying on the basis of and said "see separate reports" then attached my diagnostic reports and I think I also had a letter from my GP which brought everything together basically just confirming my diagnoses.

 

I don't really know what kinds of things I want from DSA anyway. The only thing I can think of so far that I might need is a permit to park in the staff car park, as the student parking is a very long way away from the classrooms and the staff car park is right next to them. But that's something I need to ask the college for, I don't think DSA can do that for me.

The next stage will be to have a needs assessment where the assessor will make recommendations about things that might help which the DSA will then agree or disagree with. In my experience it's better to go OTT at this stage and have things written in even if you don't think they will be useful as you can always not use them / claim for them, which is generally easier than going back to the DSA and asking for an amendment. A lot of difficulty I had was in convincing myself that I was entitled to some of the things I was given and it took a lot of work on the side of my disability adviser to convince me I needed things.

 

You may find that there are things you could be given that you don't know about that do actually help. For instance, I have a few pieces of software designed for dyslexic students which really help me when I'm struggling with extreme fatigue, because, for instance, they can read my writing I need to proofread aloud rather than me fall asleep at the computer trying to read it!

 

I've found the photocopy and print allowance and textbook allowance really useful as I've been able to have material at home without worrying about the cost which stopped me dragging myself in as much meaning I was in a better state to work.

 

With the parking, DSA may be able to cover the cost if there is a cost attached. You may also be able to get written in the cost of a taxi in particular circumstances which would be useful as a fall back position and reduce anxiety if you have to travel somewhere else as part of your course.

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Tally I fully agree with Mumble, and simply want to add another positive experience.

 

At this stage they simply need to have a couple of things in there so that they can move forwards to a meeting looking at your needs. The main thing is to have the support on the back from your educational institution.

 

In my experience at the University of Sheffield, I was initially very anxious about the process and applying, which given experiences from other bodies such as the DWP was hardly surprising.When I applied I had no evidence to back myself up other than I suffered from anxiety and depression and had a diagnosis for a personality disorder. The university response is we will support you and put support in place and said they would pay for it even if DSA didn't come through, brilliant really.

 

It did take a couple of months for my assesment to come through and I was very nervous about it again based on experiences such as things such as incapacity benefit reviews. I should not have been worried. It lasted for over two hours with a very friendly and interested individual who was quick to point out had I considered I might have AS, the start of a thought process which led to a formal diagnosis. In the end I recieved support for my couseling, a computer I needed as I couldn't face working in noisy computer rooms at the Uni, extra book allowances because the libary was a competitive environment for getting hands on books which I didn't deal with well, and a number of software bundles for my course along with mind mapping suggestions which I use a lot still.

 

If only my experiences of DSA were the framework for the rest of the system. Tally don't worry about it, do what you can and pass it on, and fingers crossed that you get some real benefit from the outcome, I know I did and am eternally gratefull without the support of DSA I wouldn't have been able to get through my course.

 

best wishes.

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ive got my DSA assessment on Wed at a new centre, wish me luck.

Edited by trekster

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I've just had an email saying I am elegibe for DSA and I have to arrange a Study Needs Assessment. It's given me a link to find a local centre.

 

Is there any difference from centre to centre, or are they all the same? Ideally I'll just go to the nearest one (which isnt particularly near anyway), but I just wanted to check whether I should do some research into this a bit more.

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I've had two DSA needs assessments and they were very different. The first was with an autism expert, the second was the general normal one (they actually come to the uni to do it) with someone far more used to doing ones for dyslexic students.

 

It depends what you want to get out of it. Because I didn't know what support was available or what might help, having the specialist assessment first was really useful as she was able to reccomend things I wouldn't have thought of / known about. It meant when I went to my second one, I already had the info needed.

 

If you know what you need / would like and are confident that you will be able to express these (I would take them in writing for them anyway) then your local centre should be fine. If there are issues you want support with but don't know what sort of support you need, you may be best finding a more specialist centre / assessor.

 

I should add that finding a specialist autism assesor isn't easy; I was lucky as someone at my university knew one who agreed to doing it for me. If such a person isn't available, then there probably isn't much difference between centres.

 

The main advice I would give is to try to make sure the assessment is as comprehensive and over-encompassing as possible, to the extent it may well seem OTT and you may think that you don't really need the support advised. You don't have to make use of what is advised, but if it's in the report and DSA agree to finance it, it's there to fall back on if needed or your needs change.

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I had my assessment on Wednesday but I'm really not sure how I feel about it. I feel like they ignored all the concerns I said I had, and twisted things I wasn't concerned about to make them sound like concerns.

 

They're going to give me a laptop to take notes in lectures, even though the laptop is not a lightweight one and I won't be able to physically get it to college. They are giving me some software that I told the assessor I can't imagine ever having a need for, and some lessons in how to use it, but they can't help me with the basic IT help I am going to need for getting to grips with Windows 7.

 

They are going to give me money toward my home internet costs because I would find the library a daunting environment, even though I said I would not find the library a daunting environment. Not that I mind the free money, but I can't back up the justification if asked.

 

One really good thing is that I am going to see a mentor one hour per week. I think this is really good because I am too passive to ask for help with situations, workload or anything at all really. Hopefully a mentor could raise issues before they become serious problems, rather than me having to approach someone myself.

 

Do the university get to see your assessment? It's just that from what I saw the assessor write during the assessment, I sound like a total basket case who isn't even physically well enough to sit through a lecture. That's not really the first impression I was intending to make.

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I would bring up any concerns that you have with the assessment. You should get a draft copy of the needs assessment report before it is finalised. It has to work for you really so if there are things that you think are a concern that haven't been addressed I would bring it up. Oops just looked at the date, hope that you managed to sort everything out.

Edited by ScienceGeek

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