Paddy McGuiness currently co-presents BBC’s Top Gear but he has a long list of TV credits to his name, including his comedic work with Peter Kay. Over the last couple of years, fans have followed the developments of Paddy’s personal life. Paddy and wife Christine have three autistic children, twins Leo and Penelope, and the youngest Felicity.
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The Top Gear host has been candid about the struggles of raising autistic children and the strain it has put on his marriage.
Christine has shared her perspective too, giving an intimate account about what every day life is like.
Writing in The Mirror last month, Christine reflected on raising Leo and Penelope and how the signs of autism were present early on.
She said: “I just thought they were perfect and gorgeous – they still are. But looking back, the signs of autism were there.
“They walked on tiptoes, refused solid food, and didn’t like busy places, such as soft play.
“They were over-sensitive to sounds, so a doorbell or hair dryer would frighten them.”
Paddy’s wife went to reveal the twins did not utter their first words until they were four.
What is autism?
Autism means your brain works in a different way from other people, explains the NHS.
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“It’s something you’re born with or first appears when you’re very young,” says the health site.
How to spot it
- The NHS outlines the following signs:
- Not responding to their name
- Avoiding eye contact
- Not smiling when you smile at them
- Getting very upset if they do not like a certain taste, smell or sound
- Repetitive movements, such as flapping their hands, flicking their fingers or rocking their body
- Not talking as much as other children
- Repeating the same phrases
How to manage autism
There is no known cure for autism but many approaches, therapies and interventions can be implemented to improve the lives of autistic people.
According to the National Autism Society (NAS), helping autistic people to relax can help to diffuse some of their behavioural difficulties.
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“Build opportunities for relaxation, and engaging in favourite activities, into the daily routine,” advises NAS.
Relaxing activities could include looking at bubble lamps, smelling essential oils, listening to music, massages, or swinging on a swing.
Difficult behaviour can also be diffused by an activity that releases energy or pent-up anger or anxiety, notes the NAS.
“This might be punching a punch bag, bouncing on a trampoline or running around the garden,” it adds.
As the NHS explains, many autistic children also find it hard to get to sleep, or wake up several times during the night.
This may be because of:
- Sensitivity to the light from smartphones or tablets
- Problems with the sleep hormone melatonin
You can help your child by keeping a sleep diary of how your child sleeps to help you spot any common issues, advises the health body.
Other sleeping tips include:
- Sticking to the same bedtime routine
- Making sure their bedroom is dark and not noisy
- Letting them wear ear plugs if it helps
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