In an exclusive shoot and interview at their 14th century farmhouse, Jean-Christophe Novelli and his fiancée Michelle Kennedy reveal their Christmas wish: that three-year-old son Valentino will soon start talking. The little boy, who has recently recovered from stage 4S neuroblastoma, a rare and aggressive childhood cancer, was recently diagnosed with autism, which makes it difficult to communicate.
"He's very active and dynamic and takes me by the hand to show me things," Michelle tells HELLO! "But he won't talk and I'm longing to hear him say 'Mummy'. I've been assured that once he starts talking we won't be able to stop him. Until then, he appears to enjoy communicating through music and art."
The couple said they would love to have another child
Michelle also explains how educating themselves about autism has helped the couple to cope better with the diagnosis. "We didn't know anything about the condition and when we heard words associated with it, such as 'non-verbal', we were frightened," she told HELLO! "Did this mean that we would never hear Valentino speak? It was a terrifying thought.
"We discovered the only way to stop this fear was to educate ourselves about the condition. When you find out that there's lots of help and support out there and that so many other parents are going through the same ordeal, you deal with it. "You come out of it a kinder person because you have to understand something which you'd never needed to think about before. Suddenly, it's not the end of the world."
The couple with their three-year-old son Valentino
The couple will spend Christmas Day at home with Valentino and his two big brothers Jean, 11, and seven-year-old Jacques. "It's the only day I don't cook," says Jean-Christophe. "That's her Christmas present to me. Mine to her is that I do the washing-up." And he has one more Christmas wish. "I'd like another child. That would be lovely." "Whenever he says this, it makes me want one, too," Michelle adds. "I've always wanted a little girl and I'd call her Bridie, after my nan. Whatever happens, we're blessed to be together to celebrate Christmas as a family."
Read the full interview in this week's issue of HELLO!
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