Christine McGuinness has revealed the first signs that led her to realise her twins were autistic.
The wife of TV presenter Paddy McGuinness shared how the arrival of their son and daughter, Leo and Penelope, in 2013 was a "dream come true" – but that they "gradually" noticed differences to other children.
Speaking to The Sunday Times' Magazine, the star, 34, recalled: "We didn’t initially worry about their development because all children do things at different times.
"Weaning them was very difficult, but we just thought they were a bit fussy. Later we learnt that food sensory issues are common with people who have autism.
"But gradually there were more things we noticed in the twins. Their lack of eye contact and expression in their faces, being very sensitive to lights, sounds and noise. If the doorbell rang they would scream."
McGuinness said it didn't "fall into place" until they were looking for nurseries and realised the "huge gap" between their development and those of other children – such as that they were nonverbal until they were four.
They started on speech therapy, which was the "path" for them to be eventually diagnosed in 2017.
She described the moment as a "big shock" – particularly since it came a year after the birth of their youngest daughter, Felicity, who was also exhibiting the same signs.
McGuinness said it was "easier" for her youngest child to receive a diagnosis, since they knew what to "highlight" to their GP.
Then, last year, she herself was also diagnosed at the age of 33 with autism, describing it as a "huge relief".
The mother-of-three said: "I realised I’d always been the same as the children. I’d be sitting in their play therapy appointments and I’d be encouraged to touch various sensory items to encourage the kids and I’d recoil.
"There was a reason I’d had trouble making friends growing up. I left school early as I couldn’t cope with how busy it was and had always been very particular about certain things. Suddenly everything fell into place."
Of her 48-year-old husband – who she married in 2011 – she added that he was "especially brilliant when I was diagnosed" and that "he’s always there for me".
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