Melanie Sykes: 'My Son Is Autistic'
Television presenter Melanie Sykes has opened up about her son's battle with autism.
The former Today with Des and Mel host reveals she has known seven-year-old Valentino suffered from the condition for several years, even though he is yet to be officially diagnosed by experts.
Speaking to The Sun, she said: "I have never said anything publicly. I have known for five years that he has autism. But I felt it is his business. The thing is he is seven and is about to be officially diagnosed with it - and my family all think it is time.
"He is an amazing little boy and he has changed my life. I want everybody to know that if you have a diagnosis of autism today, there is so much you can do with your child. It is miraculous."
The star, who is a patron for charity International Pre-Autistic Network (IPAN), recently competed on gameshow The Cube and banked a massive £50,000 for the organisation.
The former model admitted she had not told the charity she was appearing on the programme in case she won no money.
She said: "IPAN is a charity that looks after autistic children and they believe you can see signs of autism very early on from birth. They believe they can eradicate those behaviours if you can get it early enough.
"Valentino has been through this therapy and treatment. Within a two-and-a-half-week intensive course with a clinic his speech came back very rapidly. It is very expensive so the charity raises money for people who cannot afford to put their children through the therapy."
Melanie married Daniel Caltagirone in 2001 and gave birth to son Roman in 2002 and Valentino in 2004, but the couple divorced in 2009.
Speaking to The Sun's Fabulous magazine recently, she said: "Daniel's very much involved with the kids. It's not 50/50 because they're with me Monday to Friday.
"But between us, we work it out and it's pretty good. The boys are very cheeky, very challenging but great fun. Me and Daniel have gone through some crappy times. Everyone does when they get divorced.
"But now it's totally hunky-dory. We're over the worst and everything is really good at the moment."
Mel's triumphant appearance on The Cube will be broadcast as part of a number of special episodes when the series returns in the spring.