Anyone who has a child on the autistic spectrum will know what it's like to have issues (or as I prefer to call them screaming bouts of frothing hysteria) with food.
Actually, scratch that...anyone with children will know what it's like.
I have a 13 year old neuro-typical son (if it's not against the law to apply that term to a teenager) who has retreated, permanently it would seem, to his bedroom/cave to communicate solely with other pubescent lifeforms dwelling in the netherworld of the Xbox.
He emerges occasionally to grunt in the direction of food before shambling back into his darkened lair.
Many years ahead I expect to see a 6ft bearded stranger, wearing a suit and polished shoes, to materialize from that room, blinking in the sunlight, with a career, a briefcase and quite possibly a wife.
He will speak in full sentences and occasionally trim his nails.
Until that day, I can with confidence reveal that the smell of teen spirit is a heady concoction of armpits, hair gel and mouldy socks.
In the meantime I appear to be fueling this painfully slow metamorphosis with small mountains of tasteless carbs and monosodium glutamate.
I have a 10 year old neuro-typical daughter who I like to describe as a Hannah Montana/Vivienne Westwood wardrobe explosion. She has a cool eccentricity I hope she always manages to hold onto.
She is also painfully skinny.
The belts we buy to hold up her jeans have to be punctured 1/2 the way up to secure them around her teeny tiny tummy.
She eats ridiculously healthy food (fruit, veg, meat) not because she thinks she should, but because she really likes it...but she doesn't do carbs.
Bread, pasta and rice are artfully moved around her plate and she has perfected the art of whisking her plate to the sink and throwing a "thanks I'm finished" over her shoulder as she vanishes out the door.
That girl can move fast.
My 6 year old autie son will eat anything, just so long as it's mashed potatoes with beans.
Sometimes he'll push the boat out and risk some weetabix, or a few chips but that's the breadth of his culinary adventures.
He is a dedicated apostle of all things puréed, and in his opinion, fruit and veg are just silly.
So, every so often I indulge in a nice little worry about their nutrition and health and try to figure out where their food issues (*cough*neuroses) arise from.
I don't have to go far to find the answer.
I have a bad relationship with food, and really only cook when starvation is imminent.
It is definitely more Gordon Ramsay than Jamie Oliver in my kitchen.
If I could cook with the same passion as I swear at the shrink wrapping on frozen pizza, then gastronomic bliss would reign in our house.
So I asked myself, what exactly do I not like about food.
I like how it looks and smells, and I love to eat it....but I realised that I don't like to touch it.
Slicing chicken fillets make my toes curl, rubbing butter into flour fills me with sticky horror, and mixing anything doughy, meaty or gelatinous with my bare hands makes my heart race (and not in a good way).
(those pesky scientists who hypothesise that there is a genetic element to autism couldn't possibly be right, could they???)
Myself, Himself, Bob's teachers, sna's, occupational therapist, speech therapist, stylist (OK, he doesn't have a stylist...I was just checking that you were paying attention), friends, Romans and countrymen are all working towards Bob overcoming his sensory issues.
He has come a long way in three years, and can now tolerate walking on grass and sand, and not only will he touch play dough but he can finger paint and play with shaving foam (sometimes on the bathroom wall with his Daddy's best Nivea stuff, but that's another story).
So it's a bit rich for me to avoid cooking because food makes me squirm, when a young autistic child can successfully do battle, David & Goliath style, with a whole host of sensory issues.
So this evening I took a deep breath and baked a loaf of bread.
I haven't eaten it yet, but I don't really care if it could be used as a breeze block to build a pier in the North Atlantic.
The fact is I got dough under my fingernails and toughed out the screaming urge to scrub them with surgical spirits.
All thanks to my autie kid's
tenacity igniting a spark of domestic inspiration in me, myself and my family might be eating better in the future.
Unless the demand for breeze blocks increases.