I felt a bit like a fraud, but it was also exciting to move among my peers and feel, for the first time, fully accepted as one of them.

Sometimes I feared the mask would slip, that I would be discovered, but I seldom was — although sometimes in conversation, someone would develop a puzzled look on their face.

We were lying on a bed in a University dorm, a girl and boy who at nineteen were taking our first tentative steps into the world of relationships. It meant that while I was bright, and loved reading and chatting, I struggled desperately to read social signals.

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But when he says, “How did you not know I was feeling that? Hope Whitmore is an Edinburgh based writer in her twenties.

She loves longform journalism, to read something amazing and true makes her heart beat quicker, and suddenly she becomes excited about all the possibilities of life as a writer and begins to yearn to go out and find stories.

So instead I fell back on words — the safety of which I could understand, as their clarity left nothing to puzzle over or decipher.

In the years between twelve and nineteen, I had taught myself a lot — forcing myself to go out and read faces as you would a foreign script, learning to figure out certain movements and postures.

“Adorably awkward,” I thought, beginning to embrace this new, if inaccurate, diagnosis, given by a boy who wanted me to be normal as much as I did.

Here he held out a chance to rewrite my past, to eradicate all the fucking awful weird things I had done, and to become something else — a quirky awkward girl who was adorable. The relationship was to disintegrate months later, with him shouting: “Why do you not get it, why can you not see when I am getting angry and need to be alone?

And then to have that person turn round and say you aren’t autistic — well, that’s difficult, too.

I’d like to say that my boyfriend’s words upset me, but it’s more complicated than that: I was both hurt by his disbelief, and strangely thrilled.

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