Chris Packham reflects on how his parents didnt deal well with his autism

Chris Packham thanks fans after response to autism documentary

BBC star Chris Peckham admits he was very “angry and confused” while growing up with autistic spectrum disorder Asperger’s Syndrome, and that his parents “didn’t deal well” with his condition.

The 62-year-old naturalist went on to say he had “trashed” many great relationships as a result of being autistic, and that he’d opted to leave home young.

Talking in a candid interview with The Big Issue, he explained: “I did fight a little bit with my parents and left home really early to avoid falling out with them, essentially.

“It was bad enough when I was a kid. But when I got to the stage that I was locking myself in my room, refusing to come out, it was difficult.”

The NHS website explains that the condition can cause difficulties in communication and social interaction with others, and that those living with it can struggle to perceive and understand the feelings of others around them.

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People who have the condition can also become overwhelmed by stimuli such as bright lights or loud noise, and get anxious in situations that are unfamiliar.

In his youth, Chris adopted a punk persona, and says he was relieved when people would cross the street to get away from him due to his appearance.

“It’s difficult to explain to anyone younger how striking and bold the blue hair, white trousers and pink brothel creepers was in 1977,” Chris reflected.

“When… people started appearing on the streets, as I did, with my leather jacket and studs and chains, people would cross the street rather than walk past me.

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“If I were at the bus stop, everyone would move away. This was brilliant for me. It’s just what I wanted,” he exclaimed.

Feeling uncomfortable with communication meant that Chris preferred to “shut down” and become “solitary”, instead of engage with his peers.

However, he added that he did experience anger at realising that he was different from others around him, but not understanding why.

Back in the days when neurodivergence was less well understood than it is today, he admitted he was often “enormously depressed” by his sense of otherness.

In his Letter To My Younger Self article, which was released in the aforementioned publication this week, he discussed how he channelled his previously “destructive” energy into his TV work as a naturalist, and how adulthood helped his emotional situation improve.

Meanwhile, his short series for the BBC on what it’s like to live with his condition, titled Inside Our Autistic Minds, has seen him involve members of the public.

The programme, which aired earlier this year, it is the result of Chris helping them to “create short films to reveal to their family and friends what’s really going on inside”.

Elsewhere, Chris teamed up with Strictly Come Dancing 2022 winner Hamza Yassin to talk at the Latitude Festival in Suffolk, where the pair warned that climate change is shaping up to be “the most important issue facing all of humanity”.

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