Christine McGuinness talks autism diagnosis

Model Christine McGuinness has candidly spoken to Loose Women about being diagnosed with autism.

The wife of telly presenter Paddy also talked about her mum being diagnosed with breast cancer during the pandemic.

In her first TV interview on the subject, Christine explained she and her husband Paddy had always wondered why their three children were all autistic and questioned if there could be a genetic link.

“There were lots of similarities between me and my children. Me and my husband went to do an AQ test to see if any of us were on the autism spectrum and I was actually quite high up. And 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.

“This is the first time I’ve spoken about it, I feel nervous. I’ve been on here so much speaking about my husband and my children but it’s interesting, no one’s ever really said, ‘What about you?’ What was your past, what was your childhood?'”

Christine then went on to explain she’d recently written an autobiography and during the process, she noticed every time she was going back to her childhood, she was writing things down that sounded like her children. She said, “They were very autistic traits no one picked up on.”

“I’ve never been very social, I don’t really have a lot of friends. But I think I come across as quite confident and that I can speak to anybody, I can hold a conversation. But building a friendship – if someone said, ‘Do you want to go to lunch?’ I’d be thinking, ‘I can’t now.'”

“I’m always worried that I don’t really know what to say. I used to worry about going to events with my husband… big events, I would worry just being in a room with hundreds of people I don’t know. I would sit with my head down or make excuses to leave the room because I was finding it all quite overwhelming, and now I understand it’s because I’m autistic.”

Reflecting on her teenage years, Christine said,

“School was really, really difficult. At school, I didn’t have friends, I didn’t fit anywhere and I always felt older. I was quite happy talking to the teachers. I left at 14 and my attendance was really bad, and that’s because I was struggling. I didn’t like eating in the canteen, I didn’t like the food.”

“The first time I came on Loose Women years ago, I was talking about anorexia. I was told I had anorexia as a teenager, but now it makes total sense. All of my issues with food are sensory, I eat very plain, beige food, just like my children.”

Nadia asked if there was a grieving process for what might have been if she had had her diagnosis when she was younger and Christine said, “It’s a relief now because I understand myself and I’m pushing myself more, but I’m absolutely devastated for the little girl [I was].”

At the end of the interview, Nadia mentioned Christine’s mum was diagnosed with breast cancer during the pandemic. Christine revealed,

“Four aunties to go through it and for my mum to get it, it was absolutely heartbreaking. My mum’s been the biggest part of our family… she had to go through all that treatment on her own and it’s something I think I’ll never get over. Not being able to take me mum to chemotherapy was just heartbreaking, but my mum is a strong woman and she’s doing really well.”

Loose Women, weekdays from 12.30 pm on ITV (STV/UTV).

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