Autism and anorexia relationship

Autism Spectrum Disorder in Anorexia Nervosa: An Updated Literature Review

autism and anorexia relationship

There are similarities between autism and anorexia, and some researchers believe they should be placed on A Genetic Link Between Anorexia and Autism?. The link between autism and eating disorders. Depending on severity, along a spectrum of varied symptoms, sensory experiences such as. Not long ago, I was sitting in a hospital room by myself wondering how I had once again let myself end up in the situation I was in. It definitely wasn't my first.

People with anorexia will typically restrict the number of calories and types of foods they will eat. Some will exercise compulsively, purge through vomiting or laxatives, and may binge eat [7]. Anorexia can affect all people of every age, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Restriction of energy intake relative to requirements leading to a significantly low body weight in the context of age, sex, developmental trajectory, and physical health.

Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though underweight. Research and the Connections Researchers at the Maudsley Hospital in London have been studying the similarities between autism and anorexia.

autism and anorexia relationship

They have found that both anorexic and autistic patients have a tendency to behave obsessively and suffer from rigid ways of thinking. Tic disorders, which commonly affect people with autism, are found in 27 percent of people with severe anorexia. In both conditions, patients have difficulty with set-shifting, or changing course mentally [3].

Both autism spectrum conditions and anorexia share a common narrow focus of attention, a resistance to change, and excellent attention to detail. According to this research, they found that starvation itself intensifies autistic characteristics like rigidity and obsession.

autism and anorexia relationship

When underweight, people with anorexia get even more like those with autism. Hunger focuses the brain so sharply on the task of getting food that, as with other stressors, it shuts down higher cognitive functions. Eric Hollander from Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, there is evidence that the repetitive thoughts and behaviors, rigid routines and rituals, and perfectionism that characterize both autism and anorexia may be traced to the same regions in the brain.

At the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University inresearchers looked at how 66 girls aged 12 to 18 who had anorexia, but not autism, scored on tests to measure traits related to autism [1, 6]. They compared these 66 participants with over non-eating disorder or autistic peers and measured their autistic traits. The team found that on the Autism Spectrum Quotient AQgirls with anorexia scored in the same range as individuals with autism, when compared to the control group.

Also, over 50 percent of the girls with anorexia showed a broader autism phenotype on the AQ, compared to 15 percent of the comparison group. In the tests on empathy and systemizing, girls with anorexia had a higher Systemizing Quotient SQ score, and reduced Empathy Quotient EQ score, which are also seen in those with autism. The team found that if boys and girls had a similar level of traits, the girls needed to have either more behavioral problems or significant intellectual disability, or both, to be diagnosed.

A Broad View: Disordered Eating on the Autism Spectrum - Eating Disorders Review

This suggests that clinicians are missing many females who are on the less severe spectrum. Frazier of the Cleveland Clinic looked at 2, autistic children, which were female [5]. They found that individuals with the diagnosis were more likely to have low IQs and extreme behavioral problems. The girls had fewer signs of restricted interests, which is often a key diagnostic factor on the less severe end of the spectrum.

Anorexic autistic patients

This suggests, again, that females are being underdiagnosed. Food intake often becomes very restricted and a point of obsessive fixation. Many people with anorexia do not eat very much at all, but if they do eat, they like to eat the same foods every day. If left to themselves, many people with anorexia will eat the same set of foods for months.

A Broad View: Disordered Eating on the Autism Spectrum

Similarities Between Autism and Anorexia Similarities between anorexia nervosa and autism spectrum conditions were first considered by Christopher Gillberg in the s.

He later proposed that anorexia should be thought of as an empathy disorder, meaning that sufferers have problems understanding the thoughts and feelings of other people. He also suggested that anorexia be placed on the same spectrum as autism. According to researcher Simon Baron-Cohen who directs the Autism Research Center at Cambridge University, patients with anorexia and patients with autism spectrum disorder both share a very narrow focus of attention; they are also often resistant to change in routine and notice details acutely.

A heightened sensitivity is characteristic of autism, especially when it comes to sound. Autistic people often get very stressed about certain sounds. Some people with anorexia also display sensitivity to sounds, especially to the sounds of eating.

Anorexia And Autism: Are They Related?

Chewing, cutlery on plates etc. Many researchers have observed these correlations and have been led to wonder if anorexia is a subject specific form of autism.

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For the population of people with anorexia who restrict their food intake not because they want to be thin, but instead because they are obsessed with the routine nature of doing so, it may make sense to ask a psychologist about a diagnostic test for autism.