A mum from Wallasey who spent years hiding her autism has written a book about the condition to help children understand it.

At 36, the author of ‘Little Me - My First Day of School,’ Stephanie Hughes, says she was diagnosed with autism in adulthood although she had it from birth and has spent her whole life masking it “in order to fit in.”

Like others on the spectrum, she hates loud noises and by trying too hard to be liked by people brought her to the point of “autistic burnout” last year.

Stephanie - a mum of four children, two of which also have autism - said: “I was so weak, I had pain, fatigue and was reduced to a tiny 5st 4lb.

“I’m trying to encourage my autistic daughters to just be themselves and not be ashamed of their needs or differences.

“If I can show people that being yourself is enough, to get them to really empathise with the main character, then I feel this could make a difference to many.”

The charming storybook, aimed at four to eight-year-olds, is a narrative in words and pictures of Isla, a girl with autistic spectrum disorder, and her daunting experience of going to school for the very first time.

Stephanie explains: “I am keen to raise awareness on autistic spectrum disorder in girls, as a lot of girls with it mask the condition so that its hard to tell.

"I want people to read my book and really understand how she is feeling. I want people to know that its OK to be different.”

The Wirral author says she has struggled with autism all of her life, finding it hard to hold down a job due to lack of support.

‘Little Me - My First Day of School’ is designed to make young non-sufferers aware of the problems faced by classmates with the condition.

Diagnoses are on the rise in the UK, and it is estimated that approximately one in every 100 children in the country has autism.

It is thought that for every three children with a diagnosis of autism there are another two children who have the condition but have not been given a formal diagnosis.

‘Little Me - My First Day of School’ is available to order from Amazon and direct from publishers Author House.

The book will officially be launched on Sunday, October 17 at 31 Hoyle Road, Hoylake, CH47 3AG.

The family event, which features Hoylake sensory room, book reading and some free gifts, will also have a raffle, with proceeds going to Autism Together.