Chris Packham: Exploring Autism
Famous for The Really Wild Show, Chris Packham is a household name who is also an author and photographer – but did you know that he is also autistic? Packham’s journey to his autism diagnosis, along with the work he does to support others facing the challenges the condition brings, is incredibly inspiring. When did Chris Packham get an autism diagnosis? Unlike many people who get an early diagnosis of ASD, Chris Packham did not receive his until he was 40. Packham explained that a lack of understanding about the condition and the struggles he faced meant that his adolescent and early adult years were deeply traumatic for him. He is now a keen autism advocate and has made it his mission to better understand his condition and support others in a similar position. Packham’s autism journey Open about his journey to a diagnosis and the effect it has had on his life, Packham shares his story in the 2017 documentary Asperger’s and Me. We now know that he lives the majority of his time in a cabin in a forest, with his dog Scratchy and partner Charlotte. We also know that he battles with accessing the neurotypical world and often feels ‘weird’ and on the outskirts of society. He’s worked hard to use his diagnosis as a platform for other autistic people and has become a role model. Inside Our Autistic Minds Inside Our Autistic Minds is a BBC Two documentary that works to give people who are autistic the opportunity to create films about their lives to help show the condition in all its facets. While he presents the documentary, it is not about his life in the same way that his previous documentary was. Instead, it works to provide other autistic people with the opportunity to share their stories and show off the inner workings of their lives. The finished result is beautiful, poignant and emotional – but what’s more, it’s educational too. Chris Packham and Murray Bruce Murray Bruce starred in Inside Our Autistic Minds and is also the son of Ken Bruce, a radio presenter. Packham and Murray worked together to create a film about what it means to be autistic and non-verbal, that is later shared with Murray’s family and friends. During the episode, Packham works to help Murray share his voice using his tablet device and the pair create a film that explains how even though Murray cannot speak, he thinks deeply about life and has balanced, well-reasoned views on the world that are insightful – and they should be shared. It’s a moving relationship that shows deep respect for Murray, as Packham works hard to help him find his voice, in a way that works for him, so that Murray can begin to combat the loneliness and isolation he feels. Autism – opening the eyes of the world In recent years, there has been a significant amount of work done to bring Autism to the fore and this has meant that not only do we now understand it better than ever before, but more people are able to get a diagnosis. In the UK, 1-2% of the population is autistic. Many people first notice the signs of autism as early as 12 months old, with symptoms such as poor sleep, sensory problems, communication concerns and developmental differences. The good news is that there are now many sources of support out there that can help you navigate what it means to be autistic. You no longer have to do it alone!
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