And for his mother, who so keenly wanted her child to integrate and have a happy, healthy life, it was agonising. On the autistic spectrum, he has struggled with speech and comprehending others for most of his life. Aged 17 he began writing music. His first song — entitled The Black of Lonely — described the melancholy of being alone. For a mother, the lyrics cannot have been easy listening. As Carol relays their story, Daniel sits patiently opposite her, sipping a Coke.
Seeing the two together, her words are tricky to believe. Today he is talkative, animated and enthusiastic. A gentle 6ft 4in presence with a tumbling head of hair and wide blue eyes, he maintains eye contact, unabashed. This is down to two factors: The Undateables, a BAFTA-nominated series now in its fifth run , is a reality show chronicling the lives of single people with disabilities and learning difficulties looking for love. So far it has produced a baby and two marriages.
Daniel has taken part in three episodes, become its unlikely star and a poster boy for autism. The confidence it has given him is amazing. He has gone from strength to strength and it has changed our lives dramatically. Critics also questioned whether participants could truly give informed consent to becoming TV stars. Carol admits she had reservations about her son appearing on the show, now watched by three million. We had loads of worries. But after watching it for the first time I thought it was brilliant.
I said I had to be involved every step of the way. They are adults and they want to do the same things as adults. Before then, he had been a chatty, active, switched-on child. Doctors blamed his condition on meningitis and septicaemia. Floating with no diagnosis was the toughest bit and without a label it is difficult to get help. But there was definitely something between them, and they arranged to go for pizza. Carol started the business two years ago with a family friend, Diane Sharkey, after Daniel moved into a supported living house nearby with four friends.
Carol, a hairdresser at the time, realised how little there was going on for him. Security around the agency, which is designed exclusively for those with learning difficulties, is essential: We have girls that meet up for lunch and go shopping because of it. They are just so isolated, these guys. They go to school and make friends at school. Then they finish school and there is nothing. It is a real problem. I notice age thirties of men always can say will you marry me.
Daniel, meanwhile, has started writing new songs.