The National Autistic Society outline common autism traits
In response to the BBC Two documentary Chris Packham: Asperger’s and Me, the 59-year-old thanked the audience for their “kindly voiced” messages. The TV star emphasised that “there is no typical autistic person”. As a patron for the National Autistic Society, Chris admitted he found it “difficult” to represent the autistic community. “It’s impossible,” he wrote on his own personal blog. “I am not a typical autistic person – because there isn’t a typical autistic person.”
Echoing his sentiment, Dr Sarah Lister Brook – the Clinical Director at the National Autistic Society – said: “Autism is a spectrum condition.
“Essentially, autism describes individuals who face difficulties in their reciprocal social interaction and communication.”
This is combined with “difficulties using social imagination, as well as behaving in ways that others may see as repetitive.”
Dr Brook continued: “We tend not to think about traits in autism as this tends to imply a fixed characteristic.
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“Autism can look very different within one individual across their lifespan so it is more helpful to think in terms of patterns.”
Chris added: “We don’t need a cure, there is nothing wrong with us – we are different.
“And that difference has enormous biological and social importance. Many of us have skills to invent solutions, produce art and science to benefit all.”
The Southampton born TV presenter said: “All we need in return is understanding, tolerance and acceptance.”
“For all autistic people it mustn’t any longer be about what we can’t do, it’s got to be about what we can do,” urged Chris.
Chris has presented notable natural history series, such as:
- Nature’s Weirdest Events
- World’s Weirdest Events
- World’s Sneakiest Animals
- Cats V Dogs
- The Burrowers
- Inside the Animal Mind
- Operation Iceberg
- Secrets of our Living Planet
In addition to presenting TV shows, Chris has also penned an autobiography called Fingers in the Sparkle Jar: A Memoir.
The book reached number one in The Sunday Times Bestsellers and was featured on Radio 4’s Book of the Week.
As an animal lover, Chris has campaigned to ban driven grouse shooting and is passionate about opposing the badger cull.
Chris’s intense interest in nature has led him to have a very successful career.
There are plenty of strengths that are unique to each person, whether they’re autistic or not.
If you’re not sure if you fall on the autism spectrum you can attend an autism clinic for an assessment.
Some people may feel they benefit from the extra support available once a diagnosis has been made.
The NHS list “common signs of autism”, which may include:
- Finding it hard to understand what others are thinking or feeling
- Getting very anxious about social situations
- Finding it hard to make friends or preferring to be on your own
- Seeming blunt, rude or not interested in others without meaning to
- Finding it hard to say how you feel
- Taking things very literally – for example, you may not understand sarcasm or phrases like “break a leg”
- Having the same routine every day and getting very anxious if it changes
Other possible signs of autism might include:
- Not understanding social “rules”, such as not talking over people
- Avoiding eye contact
- Getting too close to other people, or getting very upset if someone touches or gets too close to you
- Noticing small details, patterns, smells or sounds that others do not
- Having a very keen interest in certain subjects or activities
- Liking to plan things carefully before doing them
The national health body recommends speaking to your GP if you’re concerned, or a health professional who you may already be seeing.
Chris Packham presents BBC Two’s Winterwatch on Friday, January 29 at 8pm.
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