Sam - helping others by accepting himself
Story and image by Lucie Cutting
Acceptance is an important part of Sam Horton’s story. It’s not just something he hopes people will be more open to upon hearing his story, it’s also the reason he’s able to stand up in front of an audience at all. Read more about the Hobart Human Library program.
Sam is a 20-year-old filmmaker, university student and Dr Seuss fan. He also happens to have autism.
“I have level one autism. Level one is very tame, it affects me in small ways. It can take me a little while longer to learn things and certain social situations can be challenging.” Sam explains. “I also have trouble reading people’s facial expressions and body language. My emotions can get a little bit out of whack, sometimes I can get randomly sad or angry but I’m better at controlling it these days”.
Sam talks about living with autism very openly, but school was a different story.
“I got beaten up every day at my school. Kids just didn’t associate with me at all”.
The impact of bullying and social rejection took a toll upon Sam. He lost confidence and experienced self-rejection.
“I just assumed for most of my schooling years that I was an idiot, that I was never going to do anything with my life because I wasn’t smart enough.”
This could not be further from the truth.
Sam is an avid amateur film-maker, creating and releasing short films through his not-for-profit company Time Train Films. He was also a state finalist for the 2019 RAW Comedy competition and competed in the Australian RAW Comedy finals in Melbourne.
Since school Sam has become a lot more accepting of the things that happened to him during school and is now dedicated to creating more autism awareness.
“I really like being able to tell such a dark part of my past. For ages I didn’t want anybody to know about it as I thought it was embarrassing. Being able to properly accept what happened and to be able to tell people and hope they can learn from my own experience is really important to me.”
For Sam, it’s not just about people learning about autism – it’s also about visibility for others who may be going through a similar thing.
“I recently spoke at a school where there was a young girl with autism, afterwards she came up to me and said thank you for telling your story it made me feel good.”
Sam straightens and gesticulates to emphasise what these words meant to him, “that was amazing, the benefit of knowing that I helped people….” He lets the sentence trail off but the positive impact sharing his story has had upon him is obvious.
Sam is yet to make a film about autism as it’s a small word used to describe a broad lived experience, but he hopes to one day do so in a respectful and thought out way.