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This Celeb Couple Spoke Movingly About Their Twins' Autism

Paddy and Christine McGuinness hope to raise awareness and help other parents by being open about their experiences with their 4-year-old twins.

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Earlier this month, TV presenter Paddy McGuinness and his wife Christine revealed that their 4-year-old twins, Leo and Penelope, both have autism.

Christine announced the news via Instagram in a poem she wrote to mark their fourth birthday on 2 July.

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Well, Christine and Paddy – who are also parents to nine-month-old Felicity – have now spoken in more detail about their children's autism, in the hope of raising awareness and helping others.

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Christine revealed that the twins were diagnosed in November 2016, and that her first response was "anger" followed by a "sense of grief".

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Speaking to The Mirror on Friday, she said:

We'd been to see a paediatrician, and at the end she said quite casually: "I'm absolutely certain both the children have autism." I was so angry with her. How dare she say that about my children having only seen them for a few hours? I was totally stunned. The only way I can explain how I felt was a sense of grieving; grieving for my "normal" children.

Christine went on to say that there had been "signs" of autism – such as the children walking on their tiptoes, poor eye contact, and delayed speech – but she'd mistaken the symptoms for her parenting style making them "oversensitive".

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She explained that the twins are very sensitive to noise, so they hated going to playcentres. They also "couldn't stand" textures like grass and sand, and had to be spoon-fed, but Christine thought that she'd "shaped their personalities" to be that way. She also added that Leo will still only eat "dry, beige food" such as crackers and crisps.

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What followed was years of the couple simply staying at home, making endless excuses to family and friends as to why they couldn't come out.

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Christine revealed that, one Christmas when the twins were 2, her family thought she was depressed because she didn't even put up decorations knowing that the lights and unfamiliarity would "really distress" her children.

They went on to explain the differences in the twins' personalities, revealing that Leo has more "recognisable" symptoms of autism whereas Penelope is much more emotional.

Paddy said:

Leo has more recognisable symptoms such as opening and closing doors. If you walk in the front door and shut it behind you – which is such a routine thing to do – he'll be really upset as he'll want to shut it.

Christine explained:

Penelope is the complete opposite. Her autism is more moderate than Leo's but we struggle with her more. She doesn’t like physical contact like a cuddle. She’s full of anxiety and prefers to play alone a lot, but doesn’t necessarily want to be alone. It’s difficult to watch my baby dealing with emotions she shouldn’t be dealing with at the age of four.

Shortly after the interview was published, Christine shared a couple of images on Instagram. The first showed the order the twins need in their daily lives.

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And the second was a photo of her holding Leo and Penelope's hands, alongside a caption explaining she's with them "every step of the way".

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