‘I was struggling’ Paddy McGuinness details challenges of raising children with autism

Question of Sport: Paddy McGuinness mocks Chris Harris in intro

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Paddy McGuinness and Christine McGuinness are doting parents to twins Leo and Penelope, eight, and five-year-old Felicity, who they home-schooled while schools remained shut amid the pandemic.

But in a recent interview with Radio Times, the TV presenter spoke candidly about how his children began to “regress” after no longer having a routine in place when all three kids started being home-schooled.

I was struggling, so I thought if we did the documentary

Paul McGuinness

“Our kids regressed and it made me think about families who might be in a similar, or worse, position to us,” Paddy told the publication.

The Lancashire native said he began working on a BBC documentary about autism called Paddy and Christine McGuinness: Our Family an Autism in hopes that families going through similar situations would know that they were not going through it alone.

The pandemic has brought along so many challenges for those who have the disability while their parents are providing 24/7 care.

“I was struggling, so I thought if we did the documentary, other families might not feel so alone or isolated.”

While talking about his children, Paddy recalled how difficult it was to find out the diagnosis of all three kids, stressing that only then could he and his wife work out what triggers them.

With Penelope, for example, the 48-year-old says his daughter “masks” by doing her best to fit into her environment while not drawing any attention to herself.

It’s been crucial for Paddy and his wife to be “constantly on watch” by making sure their kids are “calm and happy” as much as possible to avoid setting off a meltdown.

Paddy had recently also discussed his children’s battle with autism in a candid chat with The Sunday Times, where he expressed his fears of his kids being taken advantage of because of their disability.

He stressed that once he and Christine have passed on, his biggest worry is that their children won’t be cared for very well, which is why he believes they’ll remain in their household for as long as possible.

“I think my kids will probably be at home with me for ever. It’s great now. I’m here and Christine’s here,” he shared.

“But eventually there comes a point when we’re not here anymore and I worry about people taking advantage of them. We’re just putting everything in place for them and trying to get them as independent as they can be.”

During the filming of Paddy’s upcoming documentary, his wife learned she, too, was autistic, subsequently causing her to “put to bed” any of her initial parental worries after blaming herself for her children’s condition.

Christine admitted that she constantly pondered whether she was a bad parent by giving her little ones the vaccine as a baby while questioning whether their lack of social interaction with other kids could’ve been blamed for their autistic diagnosis.

It turned out, though, that neither of these things was to blame.

According to the NHS, numerous studies do not support a link between autism and IBD and the MMR vaccine.

The former Real Housewives Of Cheshire star went on to tell The Telegraph: “So when they weren’t speaking, socialising and weren’t eating food, I instantly blamed myself.  

“But Simon [Baron-Cohen, professor at Cambridge University] has done all these studies over the years and it was clear it was genetics.

“Now I know there’s nothing we could have done differently. Our children were born autistic and so was I.”

Our Family and Autism airs tonight at 9 pm on BBC One. You can read the full interview in the Radio Times.

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