Melanie Sykes says her son’s autism diagnosis “helped” her out of an unhappy marriage


Melanie Sykes confessed that her son’s autism diagnosis was at the heart of her marriage breakdown in 2009.

The 51-year-old TV star admitted her marriage to Hollywood star Daniel Caltagirone was in trouble when her son Valentino – who is now 17 – was diagnosed with an intellectual disability.

With a lot of stuff on her plate, Mel knew she couldn’t give her son the attention he needed as he felt so “miserable” in his relationship with Daniel.

The day host knew that something had to give if she was to be fully “present” and able to support her son.

As a result, Mel decided to “get out of the situation” so that she could walk away and give Valentino the advice he needed from her.

Mel explained that her son’s autism diagnosis was the driving force behind leaving her marriage

Opening on The Hot Mess Mums Club podcast, she said, “This boy is the light of my life. When he was diagnosed he changed my life.

“I couldn’t be in a marriage that I wasn’t happy in, so help him out. I had to cope and he helped me out of the situation I was in – he was definitely the fuel to move it to do it.

“When you are unhappy you cannot function as a parent.

“When you’re unhappy, you don’t show what a woman should face.

Mel and Daniel's marriage broke up in 2009
Mel and Daniel’s marriage broke up in 2009

The TV favorite and her ex-husband Daniel also share a 19-year-old Daniel.

Speaking of the life of a mother of two boys, she was very careful about the way she behaved in front of them.

She added: “With two boys, in particular, I was very aware of what they observed of me as a woman and what they would take in their adult lives when dealing with women – whether romantically or not, because at that point I had no idea what sexual persuasion they were going to be.

Mel and Daniel now co-parent their two sons together
Mel and Daniel now co-parent their two sons together

“It was just what women are and what women are capable of. I’m their primary woman, so whatever I do, I want them to see me as someone to admire and respect.

“I think it’s my duty as a mother, to the boys in particular.”

The Oscar-winning actor and Melanie walked down the aisle in 2001, and the couple broke up in 2009 – a year after Valentino’s diagnosis.

Although they’re no longer together, they’ve worked hard on co-parenting their boys and even made an appearance together on This Morning in 2016.

They showcased their union and friendship as they traveled to the ITV program together, speaking with Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby about their journey with autism – in hopes of helping others.

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