I was summarising our special needs journey (all two and a half years of it) over the weekend with the conclusion that it’s changed not only us, but those surrounding us.

It kind of acts as a wall, a deterrent if you wish, keeping some people away and busy in their own worlds when in usual circumstances there would have been parties, meals, invites to socialise.

I am mum to an extraordinary daughter who has autism. This condition affects how she relates to the world and how she processes information through her senses. This means she welcomes routines and calm environments but struggles with noisy, busy places, such as restaurants and shopping centres and unscheduled changes. It has also affected her learning and cognition, so we can’t do many of the things that parents of typically developing children would do, such as having a conversation or playing a board game in a rainy afternoon. I am talking about at this time, of course, with no clear idea of what the future will bring.

This loneliness makes the exclusion zone all the more poignant. I was at the other side of the wall once… Not that I miss it. I didn’t know there was a secret garden at this side, even if you had to work your way through too many thorns to find it.