Christine McGuinness has spoken of the relief she felt after being diagnosed with autism at the age of 33.
The model and reality star said she had “struggled” throughout her life and the diagnosis helped her to understand “why I am the way I am”.
McGuinness initially shared the news of her diagnosis in November last year and said she was surprised she had not been diagnosed sooner.
McGuinness and her husband, Top Gear host Paddy McGuinness, have three children, all who have been diagnosed with autism.
“It kind of makes sense as to why I have got three autistic children. It’s been a huge positive for me,” McGuinness told Channel 5 presenter, Sian Williams.
“Right through school I really struggled, I never really had many friends and I still don’t have many friends now. I struggle with change, I struggle with food, sensory issues, clothes, labels, being in busy places, it’s everything - I ticked a lot of boxes, I am surprised it wasn’t picked up a lot earlier.”
As one of the stars of ITV’s The Real Housewives of Cheshire, McGuinness was worried that her diagnosis could negatively impact her work, but she said it’s had the opposite effect.
“It’s really helped...not long after I got my diagnosis I started filming a TV show and it was the first time I had to spend time with people that I didn’t know and we were expected to interact all day and make conversation, eat together, all these things that I have really struggled with,” she explained.
“Understanding that I was struggling because I’m autistic, I was able to just speak to them and say ‘listen, every now and again I’m going to have a little bit of time-out’. If I hadn’t had my diagnosis before that, I would have been panicking thinking that I...(would) look really antisocial.”
McGuinness added that people should “have patience” with those who have been diagnosed with autism as “a lot of autistic people do move at a different speed”.
The British Medical Association (BMA) estimates that 700,000 people in the UK have some form of autism and up to one in 100 children sit somewhere on the autism spectrum.
BMA states that children and young people often have to “wait too long” to start their autism diagnositc assessment and the potential impacts of this can include “denying a child or young person the opportunity to understand their response to different situations”.
This can cause “undue stress to families, delaying the diagnosis of other mental health conditions and increased financial costs”.
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