Chris Packham accuses BBC host of “mocking” his autism

Autumnwatch: Chris Packham opens the 2022 series

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Chris Packham, 61, has publicly hit out at a social media user after claiming they had “mocked” his autism. The Winterwatch presenter was diagnosed with autism in his 40s and has since raised awareness of the developmental disability.

Taking to Twitter in view of his 579,300 followers on January 14, Chris reacted to broadcaster Gareth Wyn Jones retweeted a post by social media user and a now-deleted account.

The tweet, which was posted by an anonymous author in response to an opinion piece, “mocked” his autism and mental health issues, according to Chris.

It read: “The guy has a mental illness. It’s best just to nod at him, say “Well done!”, and carry on with your life, hoping that a professional psychiatrist will help the poor bugger.

“He keeps his dead dog in a freezer.”

Sharing a screenshot of the tweet, Chris hit back as he tagged the National Police Autism Association and the National Autistic Society to bring the issue to the organisations’ attention.

He wrote: “Evening , it seems that @1GarethWynJones and the anonymous @TheySuitHimFine seem to think it’s acceptable to mock either my autism or speaking about mental health issues.

“Anyone else on here think that’s cool ? @npaa_uk @Autism #AutismAcceptance”

Gareth has since responded to Chris’ claim and defended his position, writing: “I don’t RT things because I’m giving it a endorsement or support. Justice will prevail.”

Express.co.uk has contacted Chris Packham for further comment.

Chris has been outspoken on his autism diagnosis and previously opened up on the reason he hid” it for most of his life.

Speaking to Express.co.uk last year, Chris discussed his work to raise awareness of autism.

He 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.”

Winterwatch airs tonight on BBC Two at 8pm.

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