The couple went public with the children's condition earlier this month
The couple – who went public with the children’s condition earlier this month – admit they were stunned when informed about Leo and Penelope in November, so much so that Christine was actually furious at first.
‘We’d been to see a paediatrician and at the end she said quite casually, “I’m absolutely certain both the children have autism”,’ says Christine, 29.
‘I was so angry with her. How dare she say that about my children, having only seen them for a few hours? I can say that because I’ve told her it since and she’s been absolutely lovely. But I was totally stunned.
‘It was the first I’d ever thought of them having autism - even if, looking back, it was obvious.’
A formal diagnosis was given three months later, leaving Christine with a ‘sense of grieving’ for her ’normal children’. However she soon researched the condition in order to help Leo and Penelope and felt comfort at finally understanding what was going on.
Christine and Paddy – who also welcomed daughter Felicity last year – had previously faced struggles with elements of the twins’ behaviour for several years before their diagnosis but didn’t realise it could be autism.
Model Christine even wondered if she had simply made them ‘too sensitive’ by ‘wrapping them in cotton wool’ as she spent all of her time with them without the help of a nanny when Paddy was away filming.
‘They were very sensitive to noise and if I took them to play centres we’d end up having to leave straight away,’ she tells The Mirror. ‘They couldn’t bear different textures like grass and sand and I was still spoon-feeding them. Leo still only eats beige, dry food like crackers or crisps.
‘I thought as a mother I’d created their personalities and so I just went with it. If they didn’t like a place because of the noise or number of people we just wouldn’t go again.’
The children became more anxious as they got older and were unable to speak, meaning they couldn’t explain their distress and would instead make trilling noises or flap their arms.
It was only when they were referred to the paediatrician that Christine and Paddy, 43, finally understood what was happening and they’ve since received support from the local authority’s special needs team.
The couple carefully plan routines to help the twins and have learned to adapt to both of their different needs and personalities, which vary greatly.
Whilst Penelope’s autism is more ‘moderate’ than Leo’s, she’s far more emotional and has proven more of a ‘struggle’.
Paddy explains: ‘It’s difficult to get hugs and cuddles from Penelope, but if she ever gives you a hug or some kind of affection you feel as though you’ve done something special to get that response.’
Earlier this month Christine revealed the twins’ autism in an Instagram post on their 4th birthday and spoke of how she’ll encourage them to ‘embrace’ the condition because they are ‘totally unique and fantastically awesome’.