honest confession | 

James McClean reveals his own autism check was inspired by his daughter

Ireland winger McClean makes confession on Instagram.

27 March 2023; James McClean of Republic of Ireland after the UEFA EURO 2024 Championship Qualifier match between Republic of Ireland and France at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE

Aidan FitzmauriceIndependent.ie

Ireland international James McClean has revealed that his daughter’s experience with autism led him to discover that he also has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) assessment.

McClean has spoken previously about his daughter Willow-Ivy and her diagnosis but, a day after winning his 98th senior cap, he has, in Autism Awareness Week, stated on social media that he also had a diagnosis.

"As you all know, my daughter Willow-Ivy is autistic," McClean wrote on Instagram today.

"The last four 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 (McClean's wife) 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.

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"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 won't and should never hold her back from reaching her goals and dreams."

Speaking to Independent.ie in 2020, McClean admitted that the family had struggled to cope with the topic as they sought a diagnocis and pleased for more tolerance for families who are dealing with an autism diagnosis.

"It's a real eye-opener in many ways," he said. "People who were ignorant in the past probably don't understand but that doesn't excuse them now.

"When you see a screaming kid on a plane or in a shopping centre, the natural instinct is to try to shut it down and get angry and tell them to stop.

"But now we know what people might be dealing with and it makes you more empathetic. It ensures you don't judge people when you're out and about, if someone is struggling with a child or even an adult.

"You can't react until you see the whole picture. If you cannot see a disability, it doesn't mean there isn't one there.

"Willow loves her day-to-day life. She's always happy.

"She's very happy. Just because she doesn't have the level of understanding of the other two siblings, it doesn't mean she's any less joyous in herself. She enjoys a great life and we love her. She's not treated any differently."

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