Christine McGuinness, wife of Paddy McGuinness, joined hosts Eamonn and Ruth on Friday’s This Morning live from her home to discuss how she and Paddy are finding isolating with their three autistic children.
But first speaking about how she and Paddy are coping with isolating together, Christine revealed: “We never spend this much time together, but we’re doing alright, we have our moments, but we’re doing okay.”
Speaking about how her three children Leo, Penelope and Felicity are finding isolating, Christine admitted: “It’s really, really difficult. Honestly, online we’re trying to keep it really positive and fun, but at home we are struggling. It’s just been so difficult this week, trying to explain to the children that we’ve got to stay indoors… when we’ve spent years and years encouraging our children to go to places and to go out at the weekend.
“My daughter, Penelope, really struggles with anxiety as well as autism. So she’s already gone really quiet in herself, I’m not getting as much out of her, her communication isn’t as good. So I am worried about what sort of affect this is going to have if we are stuck in for another couple of months. But ultimately, we have got to stay home to stay healthy and well.”
On what she and Paddy have been telling the children about coronavirus, Christine shared: “We have been telling them that everything is being cleaned, because that’s what the school was telling them… It was just last night that Leo came out with the word ‘coronavirus’, ‘What is the coronavirus?’, ‘When is it going to go away?” And it really threw me and I just tried to keep it really simple, pick out the important bits. Again, explaining that coronavirus is something that is affecting a lot of people and we need to stay away from it, and that is why we need to stay at home.
“Explaining to them that everything will be safe again and one day we will be able to go back out and do things. He said another child at school had mentioned it to him last week and then he saw an advert somewhere. So we just need to be aware about how much we’ve got the news on at the minute. Remembering that the children are watching and listening and probably picking up on more than what we would like them to.”
On devising a new routine, Christine said: “It’s not going too well, but we’re trying. We’re using a visual timetable to explain to them when we’ve got lessons. We’ve got more outdoor activities, which I think is lovely and is really good for them… We’re doing a lot of life skills, we’re painting our nails and washing the cars.”
Finally, Christine spoke about asking people not to stockpile because her autistic children need certain foods. She said: “There are hundreds, if not thousands, of families in the same position where their child may only eat one brand of pasta and they can’t get that anymore. This isn’t as simple as saying, ‘Oh, your child is fussy. They’ll eat if they’re hungry.’ They won’t, some children and adults with autism have really strong aversions to food.
“My son, for example, will only eat brown bread for his toast every morning, that is part of his routine. Once I run out of this loaf of brown bread that I have got now, I haven’t got any and I can’t get any. I’ve got about six days to try and find a loaf of brown bread so he can have his breakfast, because he’s not going to have anything else.”
This Morning airs weekdays from 10am until 12.30pm on ITV, STV and UTV.