Christine McGuinness was diagnosed with autism, as was children according to Paddy’s suspicion


Christine McGuinness has worked tirelessly to fight autism after her three children, twins Leo and Penelope, eight, and five-year-old Felicity were diagnosed with the disease.

Yesterday, the 33-year-old spoke about her struggles with anorexia and difficult childhood. Now she reveals for the first time that she is also autistic.

In our exclusive excerpt from her new book Christine McGuinness: A Beautiful Nightmare, she describes her heartbreak looking back on her childhood struggles – and tells how husband, TV presenter Paddy McGuinness, 48, already knew …

“I’ve been confirmed to be autistic. It’s strange, but I’ve noticed that there have been little indications throughout my life that I’m autistic and more like my children than I could ever have imagined.

My problems with eating, my social struggles, how difficult it is for me to make friends and stay focused, and my indecision. The way I float through life reminds me of how my eldest daughter Penelope is doing.

It all makes sense now. And as much as I’m not entirely surprised, it was still emotional for me to accept it, but it’s also a relief.

My diagnosis came in August. Patrick and I were invited to a meeting with expert Sir Simon Baron-Cohen from the University of Cambridge.

Patrick and I filled out a so-called AQ questionnaire. It tests for symptoms of autism. While a lot of people have a few traits, to actually be classified as autistic you have to reach a high number, and I’ve done it. The scale ranges from zero to 50 and the average neurotypical person would get up to 15 points.

Christine was diagnosed in August


Adam Gerrard / Tagesspiegel)

While my husband was average my was 36 which is high.

Those two weeks between finding out that I had done well on the test and my official diagnosis from Simon were a tumultuous whirlwind of excitement and trying to process the notion that I might be autistic. Sir Simon quickly released me from my misery and affirmed that I am autistic. And not just mild – I’m pretty high on the spectrum.

It was a lot to take and when my appointment was over I burst into tears. I think it’s because the news conjured up a mix of emotions and while I’m not entirely shocked and it’s a relief, I’m just really sad for the younger me.

Because of my lack of concentration and my hatred of my school, I went without a GCSE. I was more than able to take the exams, but I just couldn’t be in this exam room.

She says that “a lot has been recorded”


James Rudland)

I remember it so clearly … everyone was sitting at individual desks throughout the room. I could hear people scribbling on the exam paper with their pens, and every page envelope sounded like the beat of a drum. I just sat there and did nothing. I didn’t lift my pen.

What made it even more difficult was that after a while I was staring into space, that the teacher yelled at and asked me to leave the room. I burst into tears and that was it.

After the appointment, I made my way home to Cheshire thinking of Patrick.

I wasn’t sure how he would react, but when I told him he said he was expecting it and for years he had suspected I was autistic – he never thought of telling me. Patrick was always aware that I was a little different and had my little quirks, but he never really understood what it was. Sometimes he gets really frustrated with me, for example when it takes me hours to get ready. Not even when I’m dressing up properly, but simple things like choosing between two plain t-shirts and not being able to decide which one to wear. A perfect scenario to explain my autism to you is one of the loves of my life, dirty dancing.

Paddy suspected that his wife was autistic



As a teenager, I would watch it repeatedly every night, over and over.

When I met Patrick at 19, he noticed I was wearing Dirty Dancing pajamas and I told him it was my favorite movie.

By my 21st he knew I didn’t want a big party and I didn’t have any friends to invite to Westende anyway. When it came to the movie, I knew all the dialogues, the whole script from top to bottom. So when we saw this theater show, it was different from the first line. It wasn’t my baby and Johnny.

Christine and Paddy on their wedding day


Christine McGuinness / A Nice Nightmare)

I really struggled with it. The music was nice and the dancing was amazing, but the plot was a little different and I haven’t been able to watch the movie since then (sorry Patrick).

And it’s crazy when I think about the fact that in my 20s I never had a single night – not one. I didn’t have a hen party, I didn’t have a 16th, 18th, 21st or 30th. It’s normal for me.

I made every excuse not to leave the house and socialize. I now understand that it’s because I’m autistic and it’s a lot easier to stay in reality and not have to deal with the real world when you have autism.

The couple’s three children have been diagnosed


Christine McGuinness / A Nice Nightmare)

I’m the best version of myself when I’m with my kids and that’s probably because we’re all autistic. The four of us like to stay at home and sometimes don’t talk to each other. When I’m out and about, my autistic mind really gets going.

For example, if I go to a hotel room, and it makes perfect sense to me now, but I’m going to rearrange the whole room.

Even my eating problems that I’ve had all my life make sense to me now.

I’ve only tried green foods like broccoli for the past few years. I can eat it because I know I have to be healthy, but until I was 30 I never tried colorful foods. Autistic people prefer beige food.

Christine’s autobiography is out this month


Christine McGuinness / A Nice Nightmare)

So my autistic traits can range from dislikes to patterns, or my eating problems to something really social like making friends.

I try to see my diagnosis as positive – at least I know it for sure.

In fact, there are many benefits to being autistic, just like with the three children.

I’m quite creative and artistic and I enjoy doing handicrafts and painting with the kids.

In fact, art was the only lesson I liked in school.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

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One of my best qualities is that I am very open to people and I think that I am really nice. It is the same with my children.

“I bet you wish you didn’t have children,” someone once told me. How disgusting is that. I couldn’t believe it. Well actually no, they are still my kids and I love them so much and I am so happy to have them.

After having had some time to digest my diagnosis, there are a few things I can learn from it.

Not only is this a great relief and I understand myself better than ever, but I am sure that my children can benefit from it too. We haven’t told them yet that they are autistic. But now it’s confirmed to be me, the fact that they are like mom can only make it easier if we talk to them about it.

Christine says she’s worried now that people will treat her differently


Rowan Griffiths)

And in true Christine fashion, I’ve thought too much since my diagnosis.

I’m really worried about changing because I don’t want to.

I think I’m fine, but I’ve led a life that is very appropriate for an autistic person.

Everything was a slow runner – Patrick’s career, our relationship – which is great for me because I would have had a hard time coping with a sudden big change.

Another problem is people who treat me differently because of it.

I don’t want people around me to keep saying, “Let’s make sure Christine is okay.”

I hope my diagnosis will do a lot of good, and could inspire any woman reading this who is not sure.

I am married, have children and work, which many people doubt whether an autistic person can.

But I am living proof that with a little courage, resilience and a supportive family you can achieve anything, even if it is not easy. “

  • Pre-order Christine McGuinness: A Beautiful Nightmare (MSRP £ 20, November 25th) and save £ 5 with Promo Code XA9. Order online at spiegelbü

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