Everything Christine McGuiness has said about her and her children’s autism

Model and TV personality Christine McGuiness opens up about being diagnosed with autism in her new documentary, Unmasking My Autism.

The show, which airs on BBC One on Wednesday 15 March, addresses the issue of women and girls in the UK going undiagnosed with the condition, after she was diagnosed with the condition in 2021 aged 33.

At the time, she said she felt relief after the diagnosis, as it helped her to understand “why I am the way I am”.

McGuiness, 34, announced her split from ex-husband Take Me Out presenter Paddy McGuiness last summer. The couple share three children, all of whom have autism. They made a documentary about the experience of raising autistic children in 2021. The pair were together for 15 years.

Following her autism diagnosis in 2021 at the age of 33, McGuinness has filmed a new BBC One documentary about the issue of women and girls in the UK going undiagnosed.

What has McGuiness said about autism since her diagnosis?

She wondered whether she would have dealt with the sexual abuse she suffered as a child differently

Opening up about having experienced sexual abuse as a child, McGuiness explained how she may have dealt with it differently if she was not autistic.

“I experienced that and I didn’t speak up, and I wonder if I never said it because I was autistic,” she said in the documentary. “Was it me? Would a neurotypical woman have said something? Is it my fault? How did I find myself there? All of those questions.

“It’s something I experienced when I was a teenager, and then when I met my husband [Paddy McGuinness], that was a time where I felt very safe and I wonder that’s why I stayed in that relationship for 15 years.”

Paddy and Christine were together for 15 years before announcing their split in Summer last year (Getty Images)
Paddy and Christine were together for 15 years before announcing their split in Summer last year (Getty Images)

That she felt more able to leave her husband after her autism diagnosis

When asked in the documentary if she felt more able to leave Paddy after her autism diagnosis, McGuiness replied “Yeah”.

She continued: “Because I know that I’ve stayed in a place where I was probably unhappy because it was safe and I don’t like change and ultimately I wanted to keep my family together”.

“My relationships before Patrick were not very good,” Christine said in the new documentary.

“I’d say they were all pretty bad experiences. I don’t know how to say it. Before Patrick, I had been sexually abused. I was raped. I used to pray, and it’s sad now when I think about it, I’d pray every night that I wouldn’t wake up in the morning. I just didn’t want to live, just because it was so awful. It was just awful.”

She revealed her nine-year-old daughter “didn’t want to live anymore” after the pandemic

In July, she told The Sun’s Fabulous Magazine that her nine-year-old autistic daughter did not “want to live anymore” after the Covid lockdown lifted and she returned to school.

The model and TV presenter said that virus restrictions in school meant that her daughter, Penelope, was “not allowed to play with the friends [she] used to play with”.

Schools were forced to implement “Covid bubbles” – specific groups of pupils who could only have contact with one another throughout the school day.

McGuinness continued: “She took it very personally. And she said, ‘Mummy, I don’t want to live anymore. I want to go to heaven’.

The mother-of-three described Penelope as “a very sensitive little girl”.

“She’s very emotional. She doesn’t understand her emotions very well. That’s something that we’ve had to try to teach her,” she added.

That dating with autism is “petrifying”

In an interview with The Times, the model s said dating is “petrifying” for someone like her “who doesn’t like change” following her autism diagnosis.

In a new interview, McGuinness reflected on starting a “new chapter”, admitting that she doesn’t know “what it’s like to date” after being with Paddy for 15 years.

“I can’t imagine being with anybody else,” she said. “I don’t know what it’s like to date; I can’t remember what it’s like to be single. I am going into a new chapter on my own, which is petrifying for someone who doesn’t like change.”

“As an autistic woman, I like to stay where I’m comfortable, I like things to stay the same.”

If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, the Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Helpline is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.