Christine McGuinness has said she spent years "upset" that her children didn't have a traditional Christmas.

The 31-year-old mum-of-three was speaking on BBC Breakfast about helping her twins cope with the festive season since they were diagnosed with autism at the age of three.

Leo and Penelope are now six and this is the first year dad Paddy and Christine have been able to have a Christmas tree in their home.

Speaking to Charlie Stayt and Naga Munchetty, she said: "So for us, Christmas is the most difficult time of year, we struggle with the lack of routine, obviously the school is closed, and then the changes everywhere we go, things are different.

"Everywhere is decorated, beautiful to us, but for my children, it is all too much, it is too different, it is overwhelming.

"And then there in the noise everywhere you go, people are singing Christmas carols, which again for us is quite lovely, but for my children, instantly, it is too loud, it's too much, 'why are they there?', there is a lot of questions around Christmas 'why is there a tree in the house?', 'why is everyone singing and dancing?' 'why is there decorations everywhere?' 'what's in that box, what's that present?'

"It's the unknown, it's a lot of anxiety, it's a lot for them to deal with.

"Since they were diagnosed we haven't really celebrated Christmas, this year is the first, more of a traditional Christmas although we are still going to keep it quite calm, just because the twins always seemed upset.

"On the first Christmas they were only six months old so they didn't really notice, the second Christmas they were one and a half and we put a tree up and we just noticed they didn't want to come down the stairs, they got really upset.

"People visiting, people coming over, it all just got too much for them we took the tree down after a couple of days, we didn't why, we didn't know what it was, we just knew that something was upsetting them.

"And we just thought 'oh, we have just got two big softies here and they are just scared of the Christmas tree'.

"And then every year we just tried introducing small decorations, taking then to see Christmas displays, and it was just always too much for them, so we never put trees up at home until this year.

"Our home is their safety zone, so we just decided for the last six years, we just said 'right, we are not going to decorate our house, we can't control what the rest of the world does, but for our for us that is our safety zone, they like it the same, we just won't do anything'.

"This year I took them to lots of Christmas displays, they seem to manage better at school so we thought 'maybe we will just go for it, we will try a Christmas tree and if they don't like it, we will take it down'.

Christine McGuinness with her children supporting Liverpool

"And... we have had a tree up for over a week now, and they are okay with it.

"But they got so involved with decorating the Christmas tree and they chose where we were going to put it, so it's not where I would have put it in the hall, but I am so proud of them.

"They chose that they wanted it in a room that they don't usually go in, and it is behind a sofa so you can just see the top of it, but I thought it was quite good of them to figure out that they put it somewhere where it is not in their face everyday."

As an ambassador of the Autism Society, Christine also talked through some of the key ways to help a child who has autism navigate their way through the holidays.

Make a Christmas free zone in your house

Christine said: "If at any point on Christmas Day, if you have an autistic child or an autistic adult, let them go into their room, or if they need some quiet time on Christmas Day let them have it, don't try and force them to be involved."

Give presents one-by-one instead of all at once

Christine said: "So my children won't come down to a big tower of presents on Christmas Day, it will be one-by-one, they will probably be unwrapped, just because something being wrapped, for them is the unknown, it's scary, because they don't know what is in that box."

Christine and Paddy McGuinness

Build Christmas activities into your daily schedule

She added: "It takes time, I have spent years being quite upset because our Christmas isn't like other people's. I look at everyone's Instagram and go 'well, my children aren't doing that', 'mine aren't running down the stairs on Christmas Day'.

"But, I think, ultimately, all every parent wants is a happy child on Christmas Day and for us that is keeping things calm and if that's what works for them I am not going to try and shoehorn a traditional Christmas on my children and I am going to do whatever works for them."