Mild autism and dating

The view was that it was an illness that mainly affected middle-class intelligent white girls and was little more than an awkward phase of adolescence.

Today there has been a huge change in the understanding of the disease.

People with eating disorders find it difficult to change self-set rules and learnt behaviour once fixed in the brain.

They also see the world in close up as if looking through a zoom lens, and get lost in the detail.

But there was an additional reason why it was unexpected – both her children are girls.

Autism is an overwhelmingly male diagnosis – it has been described as the "extreme male brain".

The eldest, Lizzy, 15, is bright, able and verbally confident.

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The typical high functioning male, if he is lucky, finds a secure post in a university where he can use his exceptional powers for academic study, shunning most social contact as the "eccentric professor", and relaxing at home with his train set in the attic.The younger one liked to line things up in rows and would watch the same video clip over and over again for hours.When she got the diagnosis it came as a huge shock, as it would be for any parent.But it became more apparent when she was 10 that there were differences.She moved to secondary school but the bullying became much worse and she started self-harming – biting the backs of her hands till they were raw because of her frustration.

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