Top Gear Presenter Paddy McGuinness discusses how autism diagnosis left him feeling depressed. He also shares his concerns about the impact on their family relationship. 

Paddy, 48 and Christine, 33 live together in Cheshire with their 3 children. They are eight-year old twins Penelope and Penelope and Felicity, five years respectively. All three have been diagnosed as autistic.

The father-of-3 admits that it was difficult for him to receive the diagnosis. Christine tells us how he tried to deal with the situation by working and earning money to support his family. 

Paddy, 48, and wife Christine, 33, live in Cheshire with their three children, eight-year-old twins Leo and Penelope, and five-year-old Felicity, who have all been diagnosed with autism

Paddy (48), and Christine (33), live in Cheshire together with their three children. They are eight-year old twins Penelope and Penelope and Felicity, five years respectively. All have been diagnosed as autistic.

Speaking in a new BBC documentary, the father-of-three admits he initially struggled with the diagnosis and Christine tells how he threw himself into work and tried to cope with the news by earning money to support the family. He becomes emotional as he discusses the condition

The father-of-3 admits that it was difficult for him to receive the diagnosis. Christine explains how he tried to deal with the situation by working and earning money so that his children could have a better life. As he talks about the illness, he becomes very emotional.

Christine discovers that she has autism while filming. Paddy embarks on an adventure to learn more about the condition and its possible effects on his family. 

When he visits a secondary school, he mentions that bullying and children seeing behavior they don’t recognize as normal is his greatest worry. But you can’t forget the resilience of children.

His greatest concern is the possibility that his children might not be able to comprehend and process emotions properly, which could mean they aren’t sure how much he love them.  

It’s what gets me to them with all of them, and it’s just how I think. I believe, “God will their ever understand how loved they truly are.” What do they know about love?

“Who love you more than the rest?” I always tell Leo when I get in bed every night with him. He will say “you do”, while I will ask him “Who is your best friend?” He’ll say, “you’re”, while I’ll ask, “Does Daddy love you?” He’ll respond, “Yeah.” However, I am left wondering if he is saying it just to make me laugh or if he knows that.

Christine had seen her husband get emotional and said, “Of course he loves you.” It’s something you’ve been saying for many years about the love affair and it’s something… 

During the course of filming, Christine, pictured with one of her daughters, learns she also has autism.

Christine (pictured in the middle of the filming) discovers that her autism is also revealed by one of her children. Paddy sets out on a quest to learn more about the neurological condition.

One of Paddy's major concerns is that he fears his children's struggle to interpret and understand emotions might mean they don't know how much he loves them.

Paddy worries that his kids might struggle to grasp emotions and not know how much they love him.

Patrick was worried that his children would not understand or feel loved. I always believed they did. It’s difficult for them to express it and they sometimes struggle to understand what you’re doing.

Four years ago, the twins started to fail developmental milestones.

“When I first heard they were autistic, it was difficult for me to understand. This was all there was to it. After I had understood the concept, it didn’t affect my children in any way. 

My husband is a workaholic and took every chance to work. Sometimes he can’t handle it. Sometimes I feel like shaking him. This isn’t a big deal. 

“But then, the soft side of me wonders what it must be like to live with kids who don’t get you or wish they didn’t.” This must be awful.

Having started from very different places, over the course of filming and learning more about autism, Paddy and Christine move closer together and come to a much stronger understanding about what autism means for their family. Pictured, with Simon Baron-Cohen

Paddy and Christine started out from different backgrounds, but over the course filming and learning about autism, they become more connected and have a greater understanding of what it means for them and their families. With Simon Baron Cohen

Paddy takes particular comfort from speaking to footballer Paul Scholes, pictured, whose 16-year-old son is non-verbal and autistic

Paddy gets comfort talking to Paul Scholes, the footballer, who has a 16-year old son with autism and is non-verbal.

Paddy reflected on his experience with this diagnosis and said, “I was so down I needed to go see a therapist. He diagnosed me as having clinical depression.” 

I used to believe I was the last one in the world that would suffer from depression. I only earn a small amount of money. 

It took a long time for me to realize that I didn’t immediately feel depressed. With all the other things that you must do as a parent with autistic children, it ate away at you. The realization dawned upon me that this was it. It’s impossible to say that they’ll improve over time. 

‘I was so depressed that in the fog of clinical depression I thought I’d be able to remove autism from my kids, but I’d say “yeah” because autism is part and parcel of their lives now. Why would I want them to lose part of me, whom I love?”    

He says, “I love that about you.” [his son]I don’t think he would mind if it was taken away. It is really selfish. 

Although they started in very different locations, Christine and Paddy become closer over time and gain a better understanding of autism for their families.

Paddy becomes emotional as he speaks of how he fears his children don't know he loves them

Paddy is emotional and talks of his fear that his children won’t understand he love them. 

Christine, pictured, says she was able to come to terms with the diagnosis much faster

Christine (pictured) says that she came to terms much quicker with her diagnosis 

Candid: While footage of Paddy being comforted by Christine played, he was heard saying: 'Autism is a part of who they are now. Why would I want to take away part of my children?'

Candid: Paddy was comforted and consoled by Christine while footage of the incident played. He could be heard saying, “Autism a part who they are now.” Why would you want to remove a part of your children?

Paul Scholes’ 16-year-old son, who is both non-verbal & autistic, provides him with comfort. 

“The most important thing he spoke that resonated was about not caring about what other people think. I also don’t care much about their opinions, but I am aware of it because I feel it. 

‘If anyone mentioned the term autism to me, I would respond “I don’t want talk about it. It’s not something I want to think about.” Now, I finally have a topic to talk about autism. I wish that I had not been so trapped by my fear. 

Christine was After Paddy and she met Sir Simon Baron-Cohen (director of Cambridge University’s Autism Research Centre), during filming, Paddy was diagnosed with autism.

Both of them completed an AQ Questionnaire, which measures the presence and expressions of Autism-Spectrum characteristics in a person. Paddy scored 36, which is about the average score for a neurotypical individual. 

The TV presenter, who has three autistic children (Leo, Penelope and Felicity) said in some areas of the UK receiving a diagnosis can take not months but years

Felicity is a television presenter who has three autistic siblings (Leo Penelope, Felicity and Penelope) and said it takes months to receive a diagnosis in some parts of the UK.

Later she sought a diagnosis, and Sir Simon confirmed her autistic status. 

Paddy said that Paddy made the documentary after he was forced to homeschool his children. 

“Our kids have regressed, and it has made me think of families in similar or worse situations to ours.”

He said, “I was struggling so I thought that if we did this documentary, other families wouldn’t feel so isolated or alone.” 

Paddy & Christine McGuinness – Our Family and Autism, Wednesday 1/12, 9pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer