Christine McGuinness has said her autism diagnosis at the age of 33 was “a huge relief” and helped her understand “why I am the way I am”.
The reality TV star and model said she had “struggled” throughout her life and was surprised she had not been diagnosed sooner.
She shared news of her diagnosis in November and presented a recent documentary with Top Gear host husband Paddy, 48, in which they let cameras into their Cheshire home to discuss their family’s experience of autism.
The couple are parents to Felicity, and twins Leo and Penelope, all three of whom have autism.
Speaking to Channel 5 news she said being aware of her own autism had helped her relationship with others.
“It’s been a huge relief, it’s really helped me understand why I am the way I am, why I’ve struggled throughout my whole life,” McGuiness told presenter Sian Williams.
“It kind of makes sense as to why I have got three autistic children. It’s been a huge positive for me.
“Right through school I really struggled, I never really had many friends and I still don’t have many friends now.
“I struggle with change, I struggle with food, sensory issues, clothes, labels, being in busy places, it’s everything – I ticked a lot of boxes, I am surprised it wasn’t picked up a lot earlier.”
McGuiness, who stars in ITV’s The Real Housewives of Cheshire, said she had worried her diagnosis would negatively impact her work but said it had the opposite effect.
“It’s really helped…not long after I got my diagnosis I started filming a TV show and it was the first time I had to spend time with people that I didn’t know and we were expected to interact all day and make conversation, eat together, all these things that I have really struggled with.
“Understanding that I was struggling because I’m autistic, I was able to just speak to them and say ‘listen, every now and again I’m going to have a little bit of time-out’.
“If I hadn’t have had my diagnosis before that, I would have been panicking thinking that I…(would) look really unsocial.
“It’s been really positive being able to say “it’s going to help me if I can just do this”.
McGuiness said she had been “inundated” with messages from people who said they would seek help with their own diagnoses.
She added people should have patience with those diagnosed with autism and “still include them” as “a lot of autistic people do move at a different speed”.