CLARISSE MEYER / UNSPLASH
Girls are more likely than boys to have autism and their symptoms could fail
But girls are also more likely than boys to have autism and their symptoms could be mistaken for. an eating disorder
An article in Current Psychiatry Reports by researchers from Kings College London reports between 4 and 52.5 per cent of anorexia patients measure a clinical diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, depending on the study.
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Some researchers believe autism and anorexia share an underlying genetic vulnerability. 1
"Girls learn" this is what I do to blend in, it's not OK to be obsessed with this particular thing so maybe I'll get obsessed with 5 Seconds of Summer (the music band) instead, "Dr Young said. "It's more functional, more mainstream, but women are saying" I don't know who I am, I've been mimicking other people my whole life. "
Dr Young said only 5 per cent of teachers reported problems with girls on the autism spectrum, but "trying to fake it all day" was exhausting and girls would internalize problems or explode when they got home. Clinicians were also likely to recognize signs of autism in girls.
This was the experience of Fiona Evans *, 25, from the Newcastle-Hunter region in Australia. and did very well academically but I had problems with bullying and not fitting in socially, "Evans said. "I only found out there was something like autism at age 18 and I was like 'oh my God, this explains everything'."
Evans asked for an assessment but was referred to health professionals whose expertise was with children. They brushed her off as "too self-aware." When she moved away for university, she "crashed and burned". She developed anorexia mixed with binge-purge behavior and excessive exercise, and also started self-harming and misusing alcohol. She again mentioned her suspicion she had autism, but the psychiatrist said she couldn't have it because she could make eye contact. "" It was a bit ridiculous because I'd trained myself to make eye contact, "Evans said. "Like a lot of girls on the spectrum, I'd learned social skills with copying peers, reading books and watching movies." [Itwasn'tuntilaftershelefthospitalthatEvanswasproperlyassessedanddiagnosedwithAspergerSyndromewhichisnowconsideredpartoftheautismspectrum
Evans is seen to overlap between the perfectionism of anorexia and the rigid thinking of autism. She notes that people with autism often have trouble regulating emotions, while restrictive eating is a way to numb your feelings.
Meanwhile, girls and women are sometimes misdiagnosed with an eating disorder when they actually have autism.
Young said people on the spectrum can be picky eaters, avoiding certain tastes and textures because of sensory sensitivity and imposing arbitrary rules because of rigid thinking
In boys this was more likely to be identified as a sign of autism, while girls could be incorrectly diagnosed with avoidant / restrictive food intake disorder, also known as selective eating disorder.
Butterfly Foundation is an Australian organization helping people affected by eating disorders. Its chief executive Kevin Barrow said health professionals needed to understand that individuals with autistic characteristics might require treatment or more intensive care to overcome an eating disorder.
* Name changed by request.