The star of Real Housewives Of Cheshire has since spoken of the relief she has felt about it after “struggling” throughout her life.
Christine previously shared her story of parenting three autistic children with husband, TV presenter Paddy McGuinness, in the 2021 documentary Our Family And Autism.
Now, in the heartfelt new film, Christine McGuinness: Unmasking My Autism, on BBC1 on Wednesday, March 15 at 9pm, she explains how autism in women and girls has been ignored and misunderstood by science and society.
She meets three doctors who are working to change the ‘gold standard’ test for autism. And they also discuss the vulnerabilities of autistic women, saying that nine out of 10 of them will have experienced sexual assault or rape at some point in their lives.
McGuinness, who turns 35 next week, said that her diagnosis was “a positive thing” and that is has helped her to understand “why I am the way I am”.
However, she also explained how an earlier diagnosis meant growing up “could have been very different if I had had been better understood during my school years”.
Autism can affect how people communicate and interact with the world.
According to the UK’s NHS, one in 100 people are on the autism spectrum. Nobody knows what causes autism, or if it has a cause at all.
However, experts say women and girls are routinely overlooked by health professionals as autism continues to be wrongly thought of as “a male disorder”.
Although data shows that tens of thousands more women tested themselves for autism last year, with numbers seeking tests now far outstripping men, autistic women and girls are neglected by health services due to them being more likely to conceal or internalise symptoms.
Christine said of her own diagnosis: “Finally I understand myself and my own identity so much more now”.
Nevertheless, she has also revealed that she is still prone to “masking” to try and conform with neurotypical people.
She says: “I am aware that I ‘mask’ a lot, I try to fit in, I copy others and this is something I really want people to understand as this behaviour is often found in autistic people but more so women and girls.”
In her heartfelt new film, Christine meets women with differing experiences of autism, and also talks to three doctors who are working to change the ‘gold standard’ test for autism, to make it better in spotting the subtle ways autistic women present.