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Nicky says: "I had always known she had to have a routine.
She never really played with dollies or liked imaginative games like other girls.
The effect of starvation on brain function impairs set-shifting – the ability to think flexibly and to multi-task instead of focusing on one thing – and the ability to read other people's minds.
Nicky Clark's daughters do not have eating disorders but, like all those with autistic traits, they struggle with the complex rules that oil the wheels of social intercourse.
The eldest, Lizzy, 15, is bright, able and verbally confident.
She was progressing well at school until the age of 10, when she was ostracised by her peer group and bullied.
Boys with the diagnosis outnumber girls by between 10 and 15 to one.
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.