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Building circles of support for people

so that their families have peace of mind about the future

Building circles of support for people

so that they are empowered to realise their aspirations and contribute to their community

Building circles of support for people

so that they form intentional friendships that broaden and enrich their lives

Building circles of support for people

so that they develop stronger links in the wider community

Building circles of support for people

so that they are as fulfilled and happy as they can be

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Chris Packham: Asperger's and Me

01 Nov 2017

TV broadcaster and naturalist Chris Packham was diagnosed with Asperger's in his 40s. His film about this can be watched on BBC iPlayer until November 21st. Here's the link: Chris Packham: Asperger's and Me

The film takes the viewer into Chris's autistic world, sharing his experience of sensory overload and showing how his mind leaps from one subject to another. Charlotte, his long-term partner, talks candidly about the challenges that his Asperger's brings to their relationship. Chris lives alone in the New Forest with his "best friend": Scratchy the dog. Charlotte lives on the Isle of Wight where she owns a zoo. Although he is sometimes "like an alien", she finds his mind fascinating and says she would never get bored with him.

Chris has had deep obsessions since his early childhood. He grew up at a time when there was very little understanding of autism. Consequently he was bullied at school, spent most of his life trying to be "normal" and has experienced terrible lows.

Would he want to have his autistic traits eradicated if he could? He acknowledges that he is relatively fortunate: he struggles socially but many people are seriously debilitated by their autism and have no verbal communication at all. The result for them and their families can be a terrible sense of isolation. No wonder some are keen to explore any possible solution.

The film shows Chris travelling to America to learn about radical therapies and to visit a special school where children follow a rigorous programme of behaviour modification. These attempts to change people fundamentally are not for him. He also visits Silicon Valley, where people on the autism spectrum are valued so highly that tech companies are learning to create an environment that will bring out their talents. He concludes that the key is not to try changing people but to learn to understand and accommodate them better.

We recommend this courageous film.