Reaction to Chris Packham’s Documentary

I don’t know if you’ve heard about it yet, but a BBC tv nature show person released a 1 hour documentary where he “came out” as autistic/Asperger’s (still an official diagnosis in Europe.) The time was split between talking about his own life and exploring “treatments” in the US for autism. He asked himself the question, “if there were a cure for autism, would I take it?” He observed a study for Transcrainal Magnetic Stimulation and children undergoing ABA/operant conditioning. He also met up with author of NeuroTribes, Steve Silberman in Silicon Valley and saw a company that is actively recruiting autistic workers and how they have adapted the interview process to make it better for autistics to showcase their work.

I was worried before watching it what his decision would be. I am very happy for Mr. Packham that he chose to accept himself the way he is. I thought that while he seemed a bit horrified by the ABA demonstration he was kind and not judgmental of the parents. Hopefully that will make this video something that parents who make that choice will still watch and be open to learning from. Personally, the ABA examples was very difficult to watch and made me cry. Thankfully I had my husband watching it with me so he helped me.

I am not going to criticize an autistic for the way he communicated his experiences. Cheerful Autistic wrote a post about it that addresses some slightly problematic term uses.

I think it is wonderful to see autism being spoken about by an actual autistic rather than a neurotypical parent. I would love to see more like this in the future. I doubt it would change the mind of anyone who is already familiar with the spectrum, but reaching people who have not had that exposure yet with a positive message, I hope, will lead to better understanding and acceptance.

At the time of writing this, the only way I found to watch the program was on YouTube. Because it is copyrighted material, the videos are usually shut down after a few days. But they seem to pop back up again on someone else’s account, so search for “Chris Packham Asperger’s Syndrome and Me” and look for a video that is not quite an hour long and that’s the one I’m referring to here.

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