Christine McGuinness: TV Star ‘Trying To Be A Little More Of Myself Now’ After ‘Incredible’ Diagnosis With Autism

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Christine McGuinness: TV Star ‘Trying To Be A Little More Of Myself Now’ After ‘Incredible’ Diagnosis With Autism


TV star Christine McGuinness told Sky News she is trying to be a little bit more of herself now after an “incredible” autism diagnosis at 33.

She is one of a handful of celebrities praised by activists for speaking out about making the discovery later in life – as doctors say thousands of women and girls with autism are still misdiagnosed.

It was while filming her new documentary, Our Family And Autism, that Christine began to question more deeply about her own experiences.

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Christine McGuinness spoke to Sky News about when she was diagnosed with autism

She had decided to make the film, with her husband Paddy McGuinness, to talk about their experiences raising their three children – all of whom have autism.

But as the project progressed, she began to recognize more parallels with her own experiences growing up.

“I have always felt different. And I’ve always felt very much like children, ”Christine told Sky News. “I really had a hard time fitting in. I got pretty lonely – in my twenties I stayed home for about eight years. “

“Food has always been a big deal. The sensory things around food – the taste, the smell, the texture. Being in high traffic places, shopping, events, everything. I have always found this to be really upsetting. “

As part of the documentary, she and her husband decided to take a test measuring different autistic traits. The results, she said, were not a complete surprise. She had scored well above average.

This earned him a diagnosis autism at the age of 33.

“It was an incredible thing for me to have this diagnosis,” she said.

“I’m trying to be a little more myself now, I’m trying to relax and accept that it’s me, it’s who I am. I want people with autism to feel comfortable in their own skin, so that I can do this. “

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Christine and Paddy have three children, all of whom have autism

Christine is one of a handful of female celebrities who have recently spoken out about being diagnosed with autism later in life.

She is also one of the thousands of women with autism who experts say are either misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all – due to stereotypes and misconceptions about the disease and how it presents itself in women.

The National Autistic Society says the ratio of men to women diagnosed with autism is about three to one. When girls are diagnosed, it can often take much longer – the median age of diagnosis for boys is 10, but for girls it is 13.

There are various theories as to why this is happening, including that girls are better able to hide or “hide” their condition, and that teachers tend to underestimate the traits of autism in girls.

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Paddy McGuinness: “People need to be educated about autism”

Helen Ellis is another such woman. As a teenager, she started to feel different.

At 13, a family vacation to Disneyworld ended with being locked in her hotel room while her mom and brother stepped out to enjoy the park, feeling her senses completely overwhelmed.

At home, arguments with her brother became constant, as she struggled to understand why he was able to be happy and make friends, and she couldn’t.

It wasn’t until she was 22 that she was able to get the diagnosis of autism she suspected. Five years earlier, she had visited her GP with the support of her mother who worked as a teacher with students with behavioral problems and recognized the signs.

Helen Ellis
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It wasn’t until she was 22 that Helen Ellis was able to get the diagnosis of autism she suspected.

But her GP dismissed their concerns – telling Helen it was nothing more than “hormones and stress from exams.” She left the meeting in tears.

“It was difficult because at that point I started to doubt myself and my mother’s idea and I was like, maybe he’s right. Maybe it’s just me, ”said Helen.

“Maybe I’m just a difficult person and for various reasons I don’t keep my emotions in control. Maybe I don’t make friends because I’m not a nice person. “

National Autistic Society clinical director Dr Sarah Lister Brook says she still sees far too many women later in life who have been misdiagnosed – often resulting in mental health issues due to the constant struggle to try. to hide their state and to integrate. .

She says persistent stereotypes about the disease – the idea that all people with autism have trouble making eye contact, for example, or will always have difficulty communicating – are damaging and fail to take into account the broad spectrum of the disease. disease and how different it can present itself. .

Dr Lister Brook told Sky News: “Someone who evaluates a child can see that the child is happy enough to play with a lot of different materials and to play in a pretty creative and imaginative way. This is not the stereotype that most professionals expect to see when they think of autism, which can often confuse them. “

She said her main advice for parents who might suspect their daughter has autism is to trust their own instincts. “If you’ve noticed things, if you have concerns, find a professional who is ready to listen to you.

“It takes time and it takes a professional with knowledge and awareness to help this family get on the right path to accessing services. Don’t give up trying, that’s my advice. “

Helen is now co-author of a book that draws on her own experiences with autism and explains the phenomenon of ‘masking’ – the kind of techniques and tricks that women and girls often use to hide their condition. and integrate.

She hopes that educating people in this way will allow many more women to feel able to live like themselves and no longer have to go into hiding.

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