Paddy McGuinness’ wife Christine has revealed she won’t be having a Christmas tree this year, as it upsets her twins, who have autism.
Christine, who is mum to four-year-old twins Leo and Penelope and nine-month-old Felicity, shared a video of the family’s five stockings with a caption about their festive plans.
She said she was “nervous” about getting a Christmas tree, as Christmas hugely impacts her twins’ behaviour.
“I think this is enough for our Christmas decorations,” she wrote. “Last year was the most upsetting Christmas we’ve had, we had just been told our twins had autism and we felt very out of our depth.”
The mum-of-three continued: “Christmas massively affects the twins’ behaviour. They were extremely anxious and unsettled.
“The Christmas lights, trees, decorations and music… it was all too much. It was very over stimulating and with so much change everywhere, it was quite frightening for our children who were pretty much non-verbal, they had no understanding of what was going on.”
McGuinness said on Christmas day last year, her twins didn’t get excited and just “walked past” their presents.
But this year, she has more of an understanding about how to make the season a comfortable experience for them.
“I knew nothing about autism then,” she added. “Now I’m fuelled with knowledge on their condition and I’m really looking forward to preparing them in advance to help them understand the magic of Christmas.
“I’m feeling confident we will have a happy Christmas this year, with a lot less decorations. Less is more for our children, they wouldn’t care if they got one present or 10 and that is a quality you can’t buy.”
“Christmas can be a very overwhelming period for autistic children,” Tom Purser, head of campaigns at the National Autistic Society (NAS) previously told HuffPost UK.
“It is a time that brings new and often overbearing sounds, sights and taste, as well as unexpected changes in schedules and an increase in social interactions.”
Other parents of children with autism told HuffPost UK the most important thing was not to feel pressurised for your Christmas to be the same as other families’.
“Do whatever works for your family,” said Michelle Myers, 38, from Cheshire, whose 13-year-old son Owen has autism.
“Every child is unique and different. Therefore, it follows that every family is unique and different too, doesn’t it?
“It’s okay to let your family Christmas be unique and different to reflect this.
“Some days will be better than others and that’s okay.
“You and your kids are awesome, unique and wonderful, and I hope that your Christmas reflects every inch of the wonderful chaos that living with autism brings!”
For more information on how to navigate Christmas as a parent if your child has autism, read our guide here.