Remarkable TV programme – Chris Packham: Asperger’s and me


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Available on BBC iPlayer for the next 27 days is a remarkable TV programme – Chris Packham: Asperger’s and me. It’s a beautifully made film, in which Chris Packham is ‘brutally honest’ about his autism – he has Asperger’s syndrome. He welcomes the cameras into his home – deep in the New Forest where he lives with his dog, Scratchy. With the assistance of actors, Chris recalls his childhood and teenage years.

While struggling with human relationships, Chris Packham has had very intense relationship with animals. He recalls a Kestrel he kept as a boy, and the deep bond he forged with it, and how terribly upset he was when it died. He also talks movingly about the imminent end of his beloved dog. He also has an unusually heightened perception of the environment, which can sometimes overwhelm him.

The gist of the programme is shown in a visit to the United States, where Packham witnesses radical therapies to treat autism. One doctor compares such treatment to chemotherapy – a comparison which causes raised eyebrows from Chris Packham.

The conclusion appears to be that Chris Packham would not want his autism to be “cured” even if it could be. He is an exceptional example of someone who has been able to harness his Asperger’s to great effect. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of nature, no doubt drawn from thousands of hours studying books and out in the great outdoors. But he also has an exceptional ability to draw links between different things. Often on his nature programmes, he will come out with a seemingly tangential link to a different topic, which usually leads to inspired insight. These skills, no doubt, flow from his Asperger’s.

We should be very grateful that Chris Packham has allowed this glimpse into his personal life, as it is very helpful in aiding society to understand autism.

You can watch the programme for the next 21 days on BBC iPlayer here.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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One Comment

  • Great programme and much admiration of how Chris has overcome his disability to become a successful presenter, amazing achievement….only disappointing part of the show I felt was when he was visiting the States and its aba schools, Chris indicated that he wasn’t in favour of such input, as autism was how or who he was, that’s fine for Chris as he is obviously a high functioning individual on the Autism spectrum, but I am a parent of a child who is not as high functioning as him, and would dearly love to be able to accept any help I can from schools like this. but unfortunately I can’t afford to pay for such intervention as it’s not free in our so called rich country…well done to Chris but let’s not overlook any help that’s out there, autism is a large spectrum of difficulties and I and many parents would warmly embrace aba help, I felt hurt that it was dismissed during the programe, as like may parents facing the struggles of autism, I would love to rid my son of its effects and difficulties.
    Des

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