Christine McGuinness tells Graham Norton: "The new generation are a lot more accepting of autism"

Virgin Radio

7 Mar 2023, 12:36

Graham Norton and Christine McGuinness at Virgin Radio

The model and author has written an important book.

Model and author Christine McGuinness, who was diagnosed with autism in 2021 aged 33, has released her first children's book. Titled Amazing Me, Amazing You, she hopes it will be the perfect way for parents or carers to introduce the subject of neurodiversity to any child.

The Liverpudlian released the book chronicling her own autism journey, Christine McGuinness: A Beautiful Nightmare, in November 2021. That December she and ex-husband Paddy McGuinness appeared in the documentary Paddy and Christine McGuinness: Our Family and Autism.

She popped into The Graham Norton Radio Show With Waitrose this weekend to tell us more about the book. And we have to say, she was an absolute delight.

"I wrote the book for autistic children to feel included and represented," says the author, "but it's also for neurotypical children to read and hopefully understand their peers better. There's plenty in there for adults to learn too. I think this next generation of children are definitely a lot more accepting of people with autism - just because we're all hearing and understanding a lot more about it. When I was at school, I had never even heard of it. I wasn't diagnosed till I was 31, while all three of my children were diagnosed before they were four. So I think it does go to show that people are understanding a lot more."

Christine actually found her way to an autism diagnosis, because of her children.

"That's why I looked into it because I thought there must be a genetic link," she says. "If I've got three autistic kids, surely there's got to be something there and they were just very similar to me. Turns out we're all autistic. The best thing about my diagnosis is that, you know, when I was telling my children about being autistic, I said, 'Look, mummy is autistic too. It's fine. I go to work. I drive a car...' I'm trying to socialise more now. I'm trying different foods. And yeah, I'm oversensitive. And I have little challenges. But yeah, we're all doing great. We support each other."

Christine believes that there are many people who are autistic and who aren't diagnosed. She hopes her book will continue the conversation about neurodiversity and help people with autism thrive.

"Definitely, especially women," she explains. "Women seem to get diagnosed later on in life. That is because autistic women are more likely to 'mask' - to hide their differences to pretend to try and fit in to copy others. That's something I've done throughout my whole life, and I still do it. A long, long time ago, people did believe that autism was only in boys. as we know now that that's not the case and that just because of the way it presents in boys is different."

She continues, "Once I was actually diagnosed, everything fell into place, everything made sense. And you kind of have a little bit of grief for what you think you've missed. What could my childhood have been like if I'd had the support and I'd been more understood? I left school really early on and I often think, 'Could I have gone on to college or university, or been an author a lot sooner, if I'd had that support'. So there's a bit of sadness there. But it's better to know and now I can work with it. But if I can help kids have a better path to understanding themselves, then my book will have served a purpose."

Listen to The Graham Norton Radio Show every Saturday AND Sunday from 9:30 am on Virgin Radio or catch up on-demand here.