James McClean reveals he’s been diagnosed with autism after seeing daughter’s traits in himself


James McClean reveals he’s been diagnosed with autism after seeing some of his daughter’s traits in himself as he learned more about it.

The 33 year old Wigan player and Ireland international made the heartwarming announcement via his Instagram in a post about his daughter for Autism Awareness Week.

He decided to reveal the news in support of his daughter, Willow-Ivy, who was diagnosed four years ago, which he has previously talked about wit his followers and to the media.

He wrote: “Autism awareness week 🧩

“As you all know, my daughter Willow-Ivy is autistic.

“The last 4 years have been life changing in the most amazing way but also very difficult at times as her daddy watching her overcome so many obstacles in her life and learning how to manage the challenges she faces on a daily basis.

“The more Erin and I learned about autism the more we began to recognise I was very similar to Willow in more ways than we thought.

“I see so many small traits in her that I see in myself. So I decided to go and get an ASD assessment.

“It’s been a bit of a journey and now having a diagnosis I feel it’s time to share it, for the week that’s in it.

“I have debated for a while going public in sharing this as I’ve done this for Willow-Ivy, to let her know that I understand and that being autistic wont and should never hold her back from reaching her goals and dreams.”


Social media users reacted as James McClean reveals he’s been diagnosed with autism after seeing his daughter’s traits in himself…

@browneindo: fair play to him… on and off the pitch

@tylerduren20: This guy is superb – the real deal


@Dermot46878770: This lad grows more important and relevant by the day, can’t wait till he gets his 100th cap.

@cillian32: James is a class act. ☘️

@mary_db10: Fair play to him for sharing. Parents should be offered the chance at diagnosis if their child is identified as autistic.

@Irish_Soc: Just another reason why he’s one of the Irish footballing 🐐s

@OMathuna89: James McClean showing the sort of courage We’ve long since come to expect from him. A true Irish legend 💪🇮🇪

@tjbrown___: Can’t say I’m huge fan of him but that’s class FairPlay

@Bfc_Matthew: I’m actually myself on the spectrum, so seeing this is so heartwarming. The more people understand autism, the more accepted it will be. Hate how it’s used as an insult nowadays when frankly there’s nothing wrong with it.

@jordo950: James McClean 👏 🇮🇪

@PostToPostSport: As an autistic person I’m proud of James. Great to see him open up. There’s a lot of stigma and challenges to face being autistic so it’s a big step and a courageous one.

What is autism?

Autistic people may act in a different way to other people

Autistic people may:

– find it hard to communicate and interact with other people
– find it hard to understand how other people think or feel
– find things like bright lights or loud noises overwhelming, stressful or uncomfortable
– get anxious or upset about unfamiliar situations and social events
– take longer to understand information
– do or think the same things over and over

Signs of autism in adults

Main signs of autism

Common signs of autism in adults include:

  • finding it hard to understand what others are thinking or feeling
  • getting very anxious about social situations
  • finding it hard to make friends or preferring to be on your own
  • seeming blunt, rude or not interested in others without meaning to
  • finding it hard to say how you feel
  • taking things very literally – for example, you may not understand sarcasm or phrases like “break a leg”
  • having the same routine every day and getting very anxious if it changes

Other signs of autism

You may also have other signs, like:

  • not understanding social “rules”, such as not talking over people
  • avoiding eye contact
  • getting too close to other people, or getting very upset if someone touches or gets too close to you
  • noticing small details, patterns, smells or sounds that others do not
  • having a very keen interest in certain subjects or activities
  • liking to plan things carefully before doing them

Autism in women and men

Autism can sometimes be different in women and men.

Autistic women may:

  • have learned to hide signs of autism to ‘fit in’ – by copying people who don’t have autism
  • be quieter and hide their feelings
  • appear to cope better with social situations
  • show fewer signs of repetitive behaviours

This means it can be harder to tell you’re autistic if you’re a woman.

The National Autistic Society have more information about autistic women and girls

Non-urgent advice:

See a GP if:

  • you think you may be autistic

If you already see a health professional, such as another doctor or therapist, you could speak to them instead.

Getting diagnosed can help you get any extra support you might need.

Find out how to get diagnosed

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