Skip to content

Maria Lawson

When Maria Lawson set up a charity in 2018, little did she know that it was the beginning of a journey helping families deal with special needs and disabilities.

Maria formed LanSEN Together after her own son was diagnosed with high functioning autism and severe ADHD, aged just seven. The charity supports families and children who are going through the process of dealing with the many challenges that Special Educational Needs (SEN) brings.

Since then, the organisation has provided a haven for youngsters with complex needs and behavioural issues to enjoy life and socialise without being judged or treated differently. And the longer the work of the charity went on, the more Maria noticed that families lacked legal support around important issues such as welfare law, discrimination, family law and access to the right support and facilities to which their children should be entitled.

A chance conversation with a friend led 49-year-old Maria to an “epiphany” where she realised she could help those families if she could gain the necessary qualifications. She researched her options and came across City College Plymouth’s Access To Higher Higher Education courses, settling on a one-year Access Social Science and Law course.

“It was quite daunting at the time, but I am a very determined and enthusiastic person once I set my mind to something, and I knew I could do this as a route to helping others. I detest all forms of injustice, and just because children and adults have a form of disability does not mean they shouldn’t be treated like everyone else, and that drove me on,” she said. For two days a week, she began driving to College from her home in Launceston to begin the course. However, she quickly found herself struggling, and was diagnosed with a moderate form of dyslexia.

Though she knew she could complete the course and desperately wanted to, she also needed support to help deal with her condition. The tutors began to devote extra time to work on one-to-one sessions, and her grades quickly improved. “I simply cannot thank the College staff enough – every single one of them has been brilliant and amazing,” she said.

The next step on her journey is a three-year Law degree at Plymouth University. “I’m really looking forward to it. The Access course has motivated me and educated me in the modern language of colleges and universities, so I’d recommend the courses to anyone.”

Click here to find out more about our access courses.