Paddy McGuinness and his wife Christine share three children together, each of whom have been diagnosed with autism: five-year-old Felicity and eight-year-old twins Leo and Penelope.
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In their new BBC documentary, Paddy and Christine McGuinness: Our Family and Autism, the couple opened up about their struggle to come to terms with the condition and admitted that they hardly had visitors to the house before their children were diagnosed.
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In the documentary, which airs on Wednesday night at 9 pm on BBC One, Paddy described their struggle. "The early days, before we had a diagnosis, were really tough," he said. "They wouldn’t sleep, they had meltdowns at loud noises and bright lights. Nothing we did helped. So we kept the curtains closed and hardly let anyone in the house."
During the one-off episode, Christine admitted that she was initially distraught following her children's diagnosis and that Paddy struggled to cope. She said: "I was so upset about it because I didn’t understand it. Once I understood it, I realised it doesn’t change my children at all. My husband buried his head in work. There are times he just can’t cope with it. There are times when I want to shake him and say, ‘Just get on with it. It’s not that big a deal’.
"But then the softer side of me thinks how awful must it be to live in a house with children who maybe you don’t understand or maybe you wished didn’t have this condition."
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Paddy revealed that he struggled with depression during the early days of the children's diagnosis. "It chipped away at me, with all of the things you have to do, things you have to deal with as a parent of children with autism," he said. "It dawned on me that, that’s it, that’s it forever. There’s no ‘they’ll get better as the years go on.'"
Christine learns that she is autistic in the documentary
The insightful documentary sees the couple speak to other parents, experts and people on the autism spectrum. Christine, herself, also learns that she is autistic.
After realising that some of her behaviours, such as reorganising hotel rooms and not socialising for eight years in her twenties, were down to her autism, Christine embraced her diagnosis. She said: "My focus is always on the children, and if there’s any way my diagnosis of autism can help them, that’s brilliant."
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