Vice Admiral Nick Hine has revealed he is autistic after being diagnosed 10 years ago and said that the military needs more ‘neurodiversity’.
The Second Sea Lord, 55, opened up about his condition as he encouraged others with autism to join the armed forces.
Hine said that the only way the British military could compete with adversaries that have more advanced technology and larger funds would be through ‘thinking differently’ and hiring people with neurological disorders.
It comes ahead of his ‘neurodiversity network’ initiative which will launch next week, allowing workers with the condition to raise issues and discuss their experiences.
Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral Nick Hine (pictured left), 55, opened up about his condition as he encouraged others with autism to join the armed forces
The father-of-one told The Times: ‘I have a brain that is wired differently.
‘It doesn’t mean that I am disabled, it doesn’t mean that I am odd, it doesn’t mean that I am in any way shape or form less capable. It means that I am different.’
The military changed its ‘medical employment standards’ in 2018 to give greater consideration to applicants with autism.
Overall, there are 177 staff in the navy, army and RAF who are known to have been diagnosed with the condition.
Hine added: ‘The only way we are going to win and compete is by thinking differently, and therefore having people who think differently has got to be part of the solution.’
Since his diagnosis 10 years ago, the former defence policy advisor to HM Treasury initially only told close family members, such as his wife and daughter, before recently opening up to close colleagues.
Hine joined the Royal Navy in 1985 and was awarded the Howard-Johnston Memorial Sword in 1991 after becoming the first submariner to have completed the inaugural Specialist Navigation course.
He was also the first submariner to command the patrol vessel HMS Blackwater before the Northern Ireland ceasefire in 1995.
Hine said that the only way the British military could compete with adversaries that have more advanced technology and larger funds would be through ‘thinking differently’
He said that his precision and desire for order had helped him to flourish in the Navy, but admitted to grappling with large group discussions and noise.
Hine was promoted to Commander in 1999 when he became the Executive Officer of HMS Splendid, firing the first Tomahawk missiles from a Royal Navy submarine while in Kosovo.
He was made Captain in 2008 and Commodore in 2014, becoming a Rear Admiral one year later, rising to Vice Admiral and Second Sea Lord in 2019.
Earlier this month, cage fighter and reality star Alex Reid revealed he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of 45 after years of ‘relentless bullying for being different’.
He told The Mirror: ‘It’s a relief in many ways but it’s a bit unnerving because it’s coming to terms with new things, but it also explains so much.’
Asperger’s is a form of autism, characterised by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests.
Meanwhile, several other high-profile people have also spoken out about being diagnosed with Asperger’s.
HMS Victory in Portsmouth, pictured above. Hine said that his precision and desire for order had helped him to flourish in the Navy, but admitted to grappling with large group discussions and noise
Teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg told of her Asperger’s diagnosis and revealed that it led to her suffering from an eating disorder.
In a social media post in September 2019, the 18-year-old addressed comments about her appearance and beliefs and said that before she started school she had ‘no energy, no friends and I didn’t speak to anyone’.
She said: ‘I have Asperger’s syndrome and that means I’m sometimes a bit different from the norm. And – given the right circumstances – being different is a superpower.’
TV presenter Chris Packham further revealed how discovering his love for punk rock music as an ‘isolated and very unhappy’ teenager saved his life.
The TV host, 58, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in his 40s, explained how while he was growing up other teens excluded him for being different.
The Winterwatch presenter, from Southampton, discovered punk when he was around 15 and embraced the genre – a move he described as ’empowering’.
And comedian Amy Schumer has discussed her husband’s Asperger’s Syndrome in an effort to get rid of the ‘stigma that comes along with it’.
The actress, 38, revealed her husband Chris Fischer, 40, was diagnosed with the form of autism on her Netflix comedy special Amy Schumer: Growing.
Explaining her decision to speak out about her personal life, she told Late Night host Seth Meyers,’We both wanted to talk about it because it’s been totally positive’.
The signs and symptoms of autism
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with autism have trouble with social, emotional and communication skills that usually develop before the age of three and last throughout a person’s life.
Specific signs of autism include:
- Reactions to smell, taste, look, feel or sound are unusual
- Difficulty adapting to changes in routine
- Unable to repeat or echo what is said to them
- Difficulty expressing desires using words or motions
- Unable to discuss their own feelings or other people’s
- Difficulty with acts of affection like hugging
- Prefer to be alone and avoid eye contact
- Difficulty relating to other people
- Unable to point at objects or look at objects when others point to them