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Durham University Service for Students with Disabilities

Psychological Diagnostic Evidence

For evidence of a specific learning difference (SpLD), such as Dyslexia, you will need to provide an up-to-date, full psychological diagnostic assessment report. Ideally, this should be carried out by a professionally registered psychologist or an appropriately qualified, PATOSS registered specialist teacher.

The report must be written in accordance with current SpLD Assessment Standards Committee (SASC) guidelines and contain a clear diagnosis, substantiated by the assessment test results. Further details are available on their website.

Please note, as of 20 September 2010, the SpLD Test Evaluation Committee (STEC) have advised that tests which are normed for the adult population, such as the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) and the Wide Range Intelligence Test (WRIT), are preferred for diagnostic assessments in support of DSA applications. These tests are also preferred by the university, as they are deemed to offer more appropriate evidence upon which to base academic support within higher education.

Appropriate evidence for other SpLDs

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

In accordance with the SpLD Working Group 2005/DfES guidelines, evidence required for ADD is as follows:

  • Confirmation of initial diagnosis by a medical professional will only be accepted if it is accompanied by a full, psychological assessment which will assess the impact of ADD upon the individual and make appropriate recommendations for support within a higher education setting. This can be carried out by an appropriately qualified, PATOSS registered Specialist Teacher.
  • Students who are identified as being at risk of ADD by a Specialist Teacher during an assessment must be referred to an appropriate medical professional, such as a psychologist, for a formal diagnosis.
  • A psychological report from a qualified and professionally registered psychologist can provide a diagnosis, assess the impact upon the individual and make recommendations for support.

Asperger's Syndrome

The following evidence is accepted by the university:

  • Detailed diagnostic evidence, preferably from a psychologist or other appropriate specialist medical consultant, produced within the last 3 years.
  • If older than three years, the detailed diagnostic evidence described above will only be accepted if it is accompanied by a letter from a GP, medical consultant or relevant medical professional confirming the diagnosis.

If insufficient evidence is available, you may be advised to undergo a full, adult psychological diagnostic assessment, upon which appropriate recommendations for support can be based.


Current SpLD Test Evaluation Committee (STEC) guidelines advise that only appropriate medical professionals, such as a psychologist, can formally diagnose Dyspraxia. Other professionals can only make reference to an individual as having 'dyspraxic tendencies', which for the purposes of university support is not accepted as a diagnosis. Rather, support would be implemented on the basis of any other formally diagnosed, co-existing specific learning differences, if diagnosed. In such cases, a student would be advised to seek an assessment by an appropriate professional to formally diagnose Dyspraxia, should they wish to pursue the matter further.

Further Assessment

The university retains the right to decline any evidence submitted which it considers does not meet the required standards, or does not provide adequate information upon which to base academic support. In such circumstances, you may be advised to undertake further assessment. This may take the form of a full, adult psychological diagnostic assessment . You can opt to do this via a local psychologist and DUSSD can support you through the process. Alternatively, sometimes a 'top-up' assessment is all that is required and there are a number of organisations and individuals who offer this service.


Please note any recommendations made by assessing psychologists or qualified specialist teachers for university support will be interpreted according to university policy. The university is not obliged to act on any recommendations detailed in such reports, though due consideration will be given. This also applies to Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA) Needs Assessment reports.