Chris Packham on ‘hiding’ autism but now it’s his ‘superpower’

Autumnwatch: Chris Packham opens the 2022 series

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Naturalist Chris, 61, presents the BBC Watch series which covers Autumn, Spring and Winter. A dedicated wildlife expert, Chris throws most of his energy into charity and conservation work. He has also used his position to talk about his autism diagnosis and has starred in documentaries detailing the condition. Speaking exclusively to, he opened up about why he “hid” the condition for most of his life.

The passionate wildlife protection advocate is probably best known for captivating BBC audiences as he and fellow presenter Michaela Strachan track the movements of wild animals throughout the seasons in Autumnwatch, Springwatch, and Winterwatch.

As he talked about his work to raise awareness of autism, Chris explained: “We see a lot more young males who are diagnosed earlier on, very significantly more.

“Women are better at hiding it and, hiding it is what we all do.

“I mean, I hid it for the best part of my life, until I was finally diagnosed in my 40s.”

Chris continued: “We hide it so that we can get on in life, so that we can move amongst society in a way which is “normal,” but it comes at a great cost and particularly for those young women.

“So, one of our programmes focuses very much on making sure that it’s understood that it’s not a male-only condition.

“It’s very much a female condition as well and we need to focus a lot more effort on young women firstly, getting them diagnosed and then of course providing them with the support that they need.”

Talking about the strengths that come with the condition, he added: “There are positive elements to it, while there are still difficulties and there were more difficulties when I was younger.

“I think as I’ve got older, I’ve developed the capacity to manage it far better than I did.

“And I think the world has changed around me as well – a lot more people understand what the condition is, and therefore they understand how it shapes my personality.

“And the vast majority of people are very keen to help and accommodate.

“But yes, it makes me very determined, I’m very obsessional and single-minded, I have an aggravated sense of injustice, if I think something is wrong and needs fixing and I want to fix it.”

The presenter went on to note it make him “very task-focussed” adding: “If I have a job, I apply myself wholly to it until it’s finished and I don’t like stopping until it is.

“So yeah, I think there are many attributes which have allowed me to do the job that I do.

“Also having a good memory – I see things in intense detail, that’s good for being a natural historian, a zoologist, you know.”

Chris now viewers his autism as a “superpower,” explaining: “I would say it’s a gift, except that sometimes when you open it, you don’t get what you want.”

A series airing later this year will see Chris explore the condition further.

Autumnwatch is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

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