Paddy McGuinness and his wife Christine have spoken candidly about their four-year-old twins' struggle with autism. The couple shared details of Penelope and Leo's diagnosis in an interview with the Mirror, and admitted they initially felt "angry" with the doctor who first discovered the children's developmental disability. "We'd been to see a paediatrician and at the end she said quite casually, 'I'm absolutely certain both the children have autism,'" Christine, 28, explained. "I was so angry with her. How dare she say that about my children, having only seen them for a few hours? I can say that because I've told her it since and she's been absolutely lovely. But I was totally stunned. It was the first I'd ever thought of them having autism – even if, looking back, it was obvious."
Paddy McGuinness and wife Christine have opened up about their twins' autism diagnosis
She continued: "The twins were our first children and we'd never had any babies in our immediate family to compare them with. When they were little they would make funny noises and when they started to walk they were in tip toes. Their eye contact wasn't brilliant and they had very delayed speech, but the health visitor said it was just because they were twins. It's only recently when I've looked back at home videos and done research that I've seen so many of the signs of autism were there but we didn't realise."
The couple revealed that both Penelope and Leo are "very sensitive to noise" and dislike "different textures like grass and sand". They also said that their young son "still only eats beige, dry food like crackers or crisps". Paddy, 43, said: "He likes a lot of warnings in advance of something happening. He has more symptoms of autism which people would recognise, such as he likes to open and close doors. If you walk in the front door and shut it behind you, which is a routine thing to do, he'd be really upset as he'll want to shut it."
The couple welcomed Penelope and Leo in 2013
Christine added: "Penelope is the complete opposite to Leo. She's much more emotional. Her autism is more moderate than Leo's but we struggle with her more. She doesn't like physical contact like a cuddle. She’s full of anxiety and prefers to play alone a lot, but doesn't necessarily want to be alone. It's difficult to watch my baby dealing with emotions she shouldn't be dealing with at the age of four.
"Penelope will only get in the car if Leo is already there. She has a more varied diet than Leo but she can become obsessed with certain foods. If she has a bag of Wotsits she'll want another and another, so you have to empty the bag then say there's none left or she can't understand why she can't have them." Paddy continued: "It's difficult to get hugs and cuddles from Penelope, but if she ever gives you a hug or some kind of affection you feel as though you've done something special to get that response."
Christine revealed the twins' autism diagnosis earlier this month
Paddy and Christine, who are also parents to nine-month-old daughter Felicity, received the twins' autism diagnosis in November, and shared the news with fans earlier this month to coincide with the children's fourth birthday. Christine posted a touching poem on Instagram, which read: "Today you both turn four, and I celebrate so much more. In the last 12 months you have learnt to talk, and you are using flat feet to walk. You are conquering your daily challenges, and I'm here to hold your hand, when you're dealing with sensory overload, the quietest room sounds like a big brass band.
"You excel in mathematics and amateur dramatics and you amaze me every day, because you are beautiful inside and out in an extra special way. The meltdowns, the routines and all the planning ahead. The groundhog days, the beige food and the temperamental 'time for bed'. I love you unconditionally and will encourage you both to embrace your autism. Because you are totally unique and fantastically awesome. All my love always, mummy."