By SADIE WHITELOCKS
Melanie Sykes has revealed that her son suffers from autism
Model-turned-TV-presenter Melanie Sykes has revealed for the first time that her son suffers from autism. Seven-year-old Valentino, started displaying symptoms of the condition aged two and has since undergone extensive treatment.
He has encountered problems with his speech, requiring the help of a specialist, and is now awaiting an official diagnosis from doctors.
Mel, 41, who came to prominence on the Boddingtons beer commercials the mid 1990s, is now trying to raise awareness of autism.
Despite having to provide extra care for Valentino, while bringing up her other son Roman, she describes him as an 'amazing little boy' who has changed her life for the better.
Mel gave birth to son Roman in 2002 and Valentino two years later
'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,' she told the Sun.
Autism usually starts in childhood and persists throughout adulthood.
Many with the disorder have significant problems with language, social interaction and behaviour.
Mel decided to reveal her son's condition while filming a celebrity version of ITV1's hit gameshow The Cube, presented by Phillip Schofield.
Although the scenes are yet to be broadcast, the mother-of-two managed to win £50,000.
The cash prize will be donated to the International Pre-Autistic Network (IPAN), to help provide care to other suffering from autism.
She added: '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.'
In England it is estimated that 1 in every 100 children has an autistic spectrum disorders
Boys are three to four times more likely to develop an ASD than girls and there is currently no cure.