Paddy McGuinness says ‘toughest’ part of being a parent to autistic children is the long wait for diagnosis

Paddy McGuinness has said that the “toughest” part of being a parent to autistic children is the long wait for an initial diagnosis.

The Top Gear star shares three autistic children with his wife, Christine.

McGuinness is set to feature in a new documentary that will detail his family’s experiences with autism.

In an interview with Radio Times, the presenter said: “One of the toughest things for parents is the wait for a diagnosis. At least then you can work out what triggers your kids.

“I don’t want to go into too much detail about my kids, but Penelope, for example, ‘masks’ – she does her best to fit into her environment and not draw attention to herself.

He said that he and his wife are “constantly on watch”, trying to ensure that their children are “calm and happy as much as possible”.

McGuinness added: “In some areas of the UK, the wait for a diagnosis doesn’t take weeks or months, but years. It needs to change. People need to be seen much faster.”

Speaking about his decision to let a documentary crew into his family home, McGuiness explained that his children’s struggles during lockdown had “made me think about families who might be in a similar, or worse, position to us”.

Paddy McGuinness and Amy McGowan behind the scenes at Sedgefield Community College

(BBC/Raw Factual Ltd)

“I was struggling, so I thought if we did the documentary, other families might not feel so alone or isolated,” he said.

Paddy and Christine McGuinness: Our Family and Autism airs at 9pm on BBC One on Wednesday 1 December.

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