Christine McGuinness says speaking about the challenges her children face has helped her as much as her followers (Picture: Alex Cousins/McCain/Family Fund)
Christine McGuinness has opened up about how much her honest posts about parenting three children with autism has helped her to realise she is not alone.
The model, 33, shares seven-year-old twins Penelope and Leo and five-year-old Felicity with husband Paddy McGuinness, 47, and often gives her followers an insight into the realities of life with children who have different needs.
She told Metro.co.uk that having social media as an outlet was just as therapeutic for her as her followers, explaining: ‘I feel really, really lucky that I’ve got that platform as I wouldn’t really know anyone with autistic children if it weren’t for Instagram.
‘It’s always lovely when I do put something on about the children and I’ll read the comments from other parents saying they have found it comforting to know that they’re not alone.
‘But it’s also comforting for me to know that I’m not alone because there’s millions of families out there just like mine, or with children with all different kinds of disabilities and additional needs.
‘Sometimes you do feel very, very isolated – we struggle to get out and do things anyway as the world is not really made and adapted for our children just yet. We’re quite limited to places we can go to so when I do share things about the children online and I read the comments from other families in similar situations it does make you feel less alone and less isolated.’
Christine and Paddy McGuinness share three children (Picture: David Fisher/REX)
She has teamed up with McCain and Family Fund to support Mealtimes For All, through which she met families who had been helped to tackle the difficulties faced by those with disabled or seriously ill children to enjoy meals together.
It’s something Christine knows well as one of the adaptations she has had to make with her children is around mealtimes, as getting them to try different textures or flavours can be something of a challenge, meaning she had to give them a different meal to the traditional Christmas dinner she and Paddy shared last year.
However, she revealed that an unexpected upside of the time spent in lockdown has been that she and Paddy have been able to spend mealtimes with Penelope, Leo and Felicity as a family, which they would not usually be able to do.
‘I think it’s always been an uphill struggle with food with our children, because they do have sensory issues and are very limited to what they will eat, but over the lockdown, we took the opportunity to have those meal times together and to put more effort into it as a family – all of us being together is not something that we would usually have,’ she explained.
Christine met the Waite family who have been helped by McCain and Family Fund (Picture: Alex Cousins/)
‘That’s been a really big bonus to for us from the pandemic has happened those meal times together and creating that conversation for all five of us around the table is something that we didn’t really do before because the children would always be at school or my husband might be at work.
‘And we are seeing an improvement. It took a while to get there, certainly with my son because he struggled most with his food. And he was so used to eating at school with his one-to-one support that it took him a while to join in with our mealtimes at home, but now he does say and it’s lovely.
‘I love seeing them eat, and it’s become part of our normal routine for all of us to sit down together. It’s not always easy, sometimes it can be chaos but it’s lovely.’
While Christine admits that adapting to coming out of lockdown is ‘just as difficult’ as it was going into it, she revealed that she is ‘so proud’ of how the children have coped, adding that they always surprise her with how well they manage to get through the huge upheavals.
‘They’re all just super caring children and they’re so innocent and so pure,’ she says. ’I feel very, very lucky to have these three children as mine – they’re amazing.’
Christine McGuinness is supporting McCain and Family Fund as part of the McCain Nation’s Conversations Mealtimes For All Report which explores the barriers for families raising disabled or seriously ill children to enjoying mealtimes together. For more information and to donate, visit www.mccainfamilyfund.co.uk.