I am about to retire as Vice Principal of Cambridge Tutors' College in Croydon. My career in education spans four decades and yet it was only two years ago that I realised I had an autistic husband and had also probably taught a large number of pupils with autism during the last 40 years.
My husband's adult diagnosis
Mike's eccentric, obsessive and ritualistic behaviour had been intriguing, frustrating and irritating at various times, but neither he nor I knew that he had Asperger syndrome.
That revelation has been life-changing and, having joined The National Autistic Society and researched the condition, I have written a book called A Bowler Hat and Bow Tie in the Bath in an attempt to raise public awareness of autism.
Since my husband's diagnosis and the declaration of his condition to his employer, he has been treated with respect and valued for what he can do, rather than ridiculed for what he can't do."
How many other adults are out there without a diagnosis and not knowing why they find life so difficult? I want to open people's eyes so that they might see in their friends or family (or even in themselves) the patterns of behaviour that indicate autism, and seek appropriate support.
By Valerie Simpson, BSc CChem FRSC AIEA