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Paddy McGuinness details brave reason for making autism documentary ‘I was struggling’

Sunday Brunch: Paddy McGuinness on Top Gear gig

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TV presenter Paddy McGuinness and his wife Christine have three children who have been diagnosed with autism. The couple is set to share an emotional insight into their children’s autism as part of a BBC documentary called Autism and Our Family. Ahead of its release, Paddy detailed the brave reason for making the one-off documentary.

The 48-year-old presenter and 33-year-old Christine have three children – eight-year-old twins Penelope and Leo, and Felicity, five. 

All three have been diagnosed with autism which will be explored in the documentary airing early next month. 

Paddy admitted he was hesitant to take part in the programme as it allowed cameras into his family home but his change of heart was prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Paddy told Radio Times he wasn’t sold on the idea of “such a personal documentary” until lockdown happened and his kids had to be home-schooled. This was difficult for all pupils, but harder still for kids who rely on routine. 

He said: “Our kids regressed and it made me think about families who might be in a similar, or worse, position to us.

“I was struggling, so I thought if we did the documentary, other families might not feel so alone or isolated.”

The candid documentary will invite BBC viewers into their Cheshire mansion where they will discuss ways the public can learn how to understand autism better. 

For the first two years of the twins’ lives, Paddy and Christine spent the majority of their time at home because it was less traumatic than going anywhere.

The twins’ boundaries were unpredictable, their sleep fractured, their meltdowns hard to control and their development slow. 

The twins were diagnosed with autism at the age of four and Felicity was diagnosed when she was three years old. 

Paddy explained: “One of the toughest things for parents is the wait for a diagnosis. At least then you can work out what triggers your kids.”

He added: “Christine and I are constantly on the watch, making sure the kids stay calm and happy as much as possible.” 

Christine has also been diagnosed with autism, which she details within the one-off documentary. 

During a recent appearance on Loose Women, the former model revealed she scored highly on the AQ test, which she underwent after speculating that her children’s condition may have been passed down to them genetically. 

Speaking on the ITV show, she explained: “I was diagnosed a few months ago, so I’ve had time to process it, speak to my family and get my head around it.” 

Christine said evidence of her condition jumped out at her during the writing of her autobiography when she revisited memories from her childhood.

“I was writing things down that were really like my children, and that were very obviously autistic traits and symptoms that no one picked up on,” said Christine. “I suppose back then, no one really did.”

The mum-of-three regularly speaks out for autism awareness since her children were diagnosed. 

Her husband Paddy had suspected she may have autism since the diagnosis of their children, she revealed.

Paddy And Christine McGuinness: Our Family And Autism airs on Wednesday, December 1 at 9pm on BBC One.

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