'I never thought any of this would happen for her' - Proud dad Keith Duffy celebrates daughter Mia's 'unbelievable' Junior Cert results
Keith Duffy's has said that his family are celebrating the "unbelievable" Junior Certificate results his daughter Mia has just received.
The 15-year-old daughter of the Boyzone star was diagnosed with autism when she was 18 months old.
"I never thought she'd be in mainstream school, I never thought she'd sit State exams, I never thought any of this would happen for her," Duffy told RTE Radio 1's The Ray D'Arcy Show this afternoon.
"We had no idea what to expect when the results came out. She could have come out with 5 or 6 Es and I would have been just as proud of her to be honest. But the fact that she did as well as she did was just unbelievable."
The proud dad said that Mia was "severely autistic" when she was a young toddler and the fact that she has progressed to where she is now is a "mini miracle".
"Mia was non-verbal until she was seven. At the time, she was very isolated in her own world. She wasn't responding, she didn't have much eye contact, she wasn't interested in spending time with anyone," he said.
"She spent a lot of time in her bedroom under her bed with a blanket over her head. We were quite a young family, it was so scary; we didn't know what to do."
Duffy maintained that he and his wife Lisa were "lucky" as, through the help of other parents at the time of her diagnosis - which in itself was a difficult process - Mia received "the right intervention".
"Most of the country at this stage knows that my little girl has autism. [But] back when she was 1 or 2 things were very, very difficult.
"There weren't many services in the country. Everybody told me that early intervention was essential although I couldn't avail of any.
"Early diagnosis is obviously essential so you could put in place early intervention - none of this was available."
Over the last decade, Duffy has actively fundraised and built awareness of autism for Irish Autism Action, helping to raise over €8m for the charity.
Earlier this year, the father-of-two stepped down as patron of IAA after ten years due to family and work commitments.
He has said that campaigning for autism awareness since Mia's diagnosis has made him a better person.
"My daughter has shown me a side of myself that I much more prefer than the person I was before I had her," he said.
Keith and his wife Lisa also have an 18-year-old son Jay, an aspiring actor, who recently sat his Leaving Certificate exams.