Christine McGuinness opens up about how lockdown has affected her autistic children

18 February 2021, 15:44 | Updated: 18 February 2021, 15:56

Polly Foreman

By Polly Foreman

Christine McGuinness has expressed how proud she is of her children for coping during lockdown.

Christine McGuinness has opened up about her family's struggles during lockdown, revealing that it's been 'extremely difficult' at times.

Read more: Christine McGuinness admits her autistic children's development has 'struggled' in isolation

She shares three children with her husband Paddy McGuinness - twins Leo and Penelope, seven, and Felicity, five - who are all autistic.

Appearing on Loose Women today, Christine opened up about how her kids have coped over lockdown, and also revealed how proud she is of them.

She said: "It’s been a rollercoaster. It started off extremely difficult, for everyone it was a massive shock. Our kids are autistic and they struggle with shock. All of these differences were suddenly thrown at them, the school was closed, not allowed friends or family over, which we used to do, at weekends we couldn’t go to the park.

Read more: Christine McGuinness begs people to stop stockpiling food and think of her autistic kids

"With three children that struggle with change anyway and don’t really understand an awful lot, that was extremely difficult, for them to suddenly change overnight. We did kind of get used to it over the summer, they did stop asking about going out and that’s sort of where we’re at now. 

“It’s quite sad really that they now accept it’s normal to stay in. We’ve spent years and years encouraging our children, it doesn’t come naturally to them, to go and socialise, going out to busy places and new places like play centres – they can be quite frightening – it took them years to do that quite happily. Now they don’t even ask about it, it’s like it doesn’t exist anymore. It’s quite sad. I do think if/when things go back to normal we’re going to have to start again with all of that. We’re going to have to really build up their confidence again as anxiety is through the roof.

Christine also opened up about a recent occasion where her son had struggled to cope with being near a stranger, saying: "I stopped at the petrol station, I took my son in with me, and somebody walked past and he literally threw himself back from this person as he was so petrified of someone walking near him. It’s sad that’s the reality of today."

"It’s really affected their speech. They’ve regressed quite a lot. Again, speech doesn’t come naturally to them. Spent years going to speech and language therapy with the children and I still do, but they’ve all gone backwards with their speech and communication skills. My daughter, Felicity, developed a stutter over the first lockdown, which was never there before. It was every single word so it was quite severe. She is still in speech therapy getting help for that, it has got a little bit better now she’s gone back to nursery. But these are problems that definitely wouldn’t have come into our lives if it wasn’t for the global pandemic."

She also expressed how proud she is of her kids, saying: "We’ve had some magical, magical moments. And overall they’re happy, they’re healthy and they’re doing absolutely amazing and I love them to bits and I’m dead proud."

Christine and Paddy are set to appear in an upcoming documentary called Autism and Our Family, which will air on the BBC later this year.

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