Anorexia Bulimia Care
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Anorexia and Autism

So I'm really interested to know if anyone on this forum has been diagnosed with autism/aspergers or suspected they might be on the spectrum?

It's something that came up in my late teens as a query after some people noticed a lot of traits and I consistently scored highly on the autism quotient test, but I put it to the side for a while as a) I thought it was coincidence because a lot of the traits are just typical anorexia/anxiety/introvert traits anyway and b) as I recovered from the anorexia/anxiety the traits reduced. But it's been brought up again recently as I studied a module on autism for my degree and wrote an essay on the links between autism and anorexia (which there is actually quite a lot of research about - its a thing). We had to take the AQ test as part of the module, just for fun, and I still score higher than anyone else in the class, although it has reduced a few points since I was a teenager. I've also been talking to a friend who is an education professional, former anorexic and suspected aspie, and she's spoken about how autism is presented differently in girls and they are much better at adapting and empathising/socialising. And as I've thought about it more I've realised I've consciously adapted and taught myself how to manage some of those traits, and also that some of those traits are probably the reason my ED started in the first place.

Anyway, I just wanted to know other peoples thoughts - whether this was something you've thought about before, whether it's just a coincidence that both disorders share similar traits, whether anyone has been diagnosed with both, etc.


4 Replies

Yes it has been suggested to me recently thatI may be on the spectrum - I hate noise, can't bear clothes feeling tight or itchy and have to cut labels out if they irritate and if I leave a minute amount I'm still bothered by it. I always write to do lists, can't cope with spontaneous things. Need to know what's happening and like to plan eg had a weekend away with best friend and few years ago and I emailed her and suggested on arrival we go for a walk then have lunch then chill out and read then etc etc. She replied 'why don't we play it by ear?!' I'm constantly imagining what others are thinking and feeling but now think maybe I get it wrong. I count calories, hours walked, lengths swum (although these things are probably the anorexia ). I hate change and when change happens and I've had a lot in the last few years (job changes, relocated, moved house,) I can't handle it and usually relapse back to AN or have a breakdown.

I'm not keen on getting another label - AN is enough but wonder if I have autism but then I also query whether I have Borderline Personality Disorder? !!!


You've just described a lot of the things I struggle with too, and whilst a lot of them are consistent with autism, they are also probably things that most people with anorexia struggle with too - which is why its so complicated!! Part of me wonders if the two disorders just happen to have similar symptoms, after all, defining diagnostic criteria is essentially just categorising people and is pretty subjective - at some point someone decided "x, y and z" equals autism, and "a,b and c" equals anorexia, etc., and perhaps they just look similar. But I do think that having autistic traits is likely to make you more susceptible to anorexia - because of the rigidity of your thinking, resistance to change, the love of structure/routine/pattern, the focus on details, or as a way of coping with social difficulties.

I think the resistance to change thing is a big deal and I totally understand the anxiety of job/house moves - I'm moving 200+ miles away in a few weeks, at the same time that my parents are moving from the house I was born in, and that is a lot of change all at once. But for me one of the biggest triggers for my anorexia was puberty and all the changes that come along with growing up - I just couldn't cope with it.

I don't think you should see it as 'another label' - I think it can just be a helpful way of recognising what your natural tendencies are, noticing how they might exacerbate your eating difficulties, and then trying to challenge them. I'm starting to see it as a helpful way of explaining/underpinning all the various difficulties and traits I have, even though I don't think I'd ever try and get a proper diagnosis.



That is a pretty bold claim. I don't even know where to begin with explaining how wrong your comment is. I've just spent 4 months learning from an Autism researcher with a PhD - the claims that autism is caused by vaccines has been completely debunked. The guy who first made that claim made serious fraudulent methodological errors and has had his medical license taken from him. On top of that, the apparent increase in autism prevalence coinciding is generally explained by changes to the DSM (diagnostic criteria) which broadened the definition, as well as increasing awareness of the condition and earlier diagnosis. I have just written an essay on autism and anorexia and not once did the word 'vaccine' come up, although I guess if you are trying to search for a particular viewpoint you can probably find "evidence" somewhere on the internet for anything. You also cannot 'cure' autism (?!?). I'm really glad your treatment is helping you, although if it is allergy elimination alone, I imagine the positive results are little more than a plaecebo effect (which is actually fine, as long as its working for you! That's the joy of psychological disorders :P ).

Anyway, I hope you don't take my comment as a personal attack - it is an attack on the harmful and widespread myth about vaccines, that is literally causing children to die from preventable diseases, not to mention stigmatising those with autism. I don't blame you for believing the media hype about it - there are a lot of angry parents with autistic children looking for someone to blame and vaccinations are an easy scapegoat. Have a look at some of the research literature which critiques those claims if you're interested. x

(P.S. This was in response to Mila_ but now the original comment doesn't seem to be showing so this doesn't make sense lol)


@Mila_ I can see that you responded to my message but now its not here/I can't see it! :(


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