“I am brave, I am bruised, I am who I’m meant to be. This is me.” We interview Sam, achieving success despite autism

By Ellise Hollie Hayward, 21, Disabilities Correspondent, Jill Dando News

This is Sam Buckingham who lives with Autism, but despite his learning difficulty he has always been a very determined young man and achieved his goals, especially becoming a Learning Support Practitioner.

I asked Sam some questions about his autism and how his learning disability doesn’t affect him in achieving his goals and ambitions in life.

Sam is a wonderful inspiration. As you will see he ends our interview with incredible words. 

“No matter how difficult your life may be or the struggles that you may face, always follow your dreams and you will succeed. You can do anything, Dream It, Believe It, Achieve It. I am brave, I am bruised, I am who I’m meant to be, This is Me.” 

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Let’s meet Sam. I asked him to explain his Autism and how it doesn’t affect you in achieving great things. 

Sam replied: 

“Since being diagnosed with Autism at a young age, I learned differently than others. When working on a piece of work, this may need to be explained in a different way for me to understand. 

This can sometimes become a challenge for me. I prefer having certain techniques in place to support me with this and to have LSP Support. 

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If I don’t have any support, I can become easily frustrated, overwhelmed and struggle to resume the task provided. 

“I don’t like loud noises – balloons popping and fireworks, I also become overwhelmed and anxious in overcrowded and unfamiliar places. I don’t like the change of routine, I’d become overwhelmed, panicked and flustered if the routine is changed especially at the last minute. 

“Since growing up, I have never let my autism get in the way of achieving great things. I always try my best at everything and it’s a real achievement if I succeed. 

“I have also looked at the positive side of autism. I have worked incredibly hard over the last couple of years to gain my dream career; a Learning Support Practitioner, I have never let it stop me one bit and always have the support from my lectures, LSPs and my family to get this far.  

“Since trying to work so incredibly hard, I have become a well-known and dedicated student of Yeovil College. Because of this, I have gained 2 shining stars awards for all my hard work and always trying to push myself further to go the extra mile.”

What support do you have to get your dream job?

Sam replied: 

“Since being a former student of Fairmead School, a special needs school for children with SEND and complex learning needs in Yeovil, Somerset. I’ve had a lot of support from the teaching team and the LSAs throughout the 6 years that I was there. 

“Being supported within the classroom in my lessons, with the techniques that have been adapted to my individual learning needs to support me with my everyday learning. 

“Whilst being at Fairmead, I  regained my confidence and learnt to interact with others.  I have been at Yeovil College from 2020 to present, I have had so much support from my lecturers/tutors and Learning Support Practitioners to support me with my studies. 

“They have supported me and guided me along the way to the courses that are more suitable for being an LSP. 

“Throughout the years that I have been at Yeovil College, my lecturers/ tutors have made this fun and rewarding on the courses that I have been on. 

“Since 2020, I have worked so hard to where I am now with dedication and commitment. I couldn’t have done this without them, to be the person that I am today. 

“Recently; in May 2023, I visited Fairmead School to talk to the students about my career journey so far and inspire them. Alongside this, I had a guided tour of their new building by the students. I also took part in a video interview ‘where are they now project’ from the students asking me some relevant questions.”

Why did you want to become an LSP?
Sam replied: 

“I would like to be a Learning Support Practitioner as it has been my dream career. Since this, I have worked above and beyond to achieve this in the best way possible. I’ve participated in a work experience that had been organised by my tutor and placement manager, this year alongside my course within the Preparation for Life and Work Department at Yeovil College. 

“I have gained lots of hours of experience.  Having this experience of working with students with PMLD (Profound Multiple Learning Difficulties) and Learning Difficulties, I have gained an insight and an understanding of the main roles and responsibilities within the position in the educational sector. 

“I have supported the students in the classroom by using techniques to meet their individual learning needs on an everyday basis, with either supporting them as a group or 1:1. 

“In May, I applied for the position of Learning Support Practitioner at Yeovil College in the Preparation for Life and Work Department. Due to all the experience that I’ve gained over the years, with the dedication and commitment of working with SEND students, I have found out that I have been a successful candidate for the role. 

“I have now been offered a permanent position in a job as an LSP. I start my new position in September 2023. Furthermore, It will be a privilege to support the students and to fulfil their potential in their college journey. To review the student’s progress and to acknowledge that I have made a difference.”

Finally, what do you want people to hear? 
Sam replied: 

No matter how difficult your life may be or the struggles that you may face, always follow your dreams and you will succeed. You can do anything, Dream It, Believe It, Achieve It. I am brave, I am bruised, I am who I’m meant to be, This is Me.”

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The inspirational and brilliant Ellise Hayward, 21, is the Disabilities Correspondent and general reporter for Jill Dando News.

Her role is be to gather positive inspirational good news stories from around the world, and publish it to the Media and the newspaper Good News Post. 

Ellise from Somerset met Jill Dando News reporters after they covered her story while at Priory Community School Academy, part of The Priory Learning Trust in Weston-super-Mare.