Eating disorders and autism: More common than you think image
S2 E10 · Butterfly: Let's Talk
Eating disorders and autism: More common than you think
4 Plays
1 year ago
The relationship between autism and eating disorders is not well known but it's surprisingly common. It's so common that some of Australia's top clinicians recommend everyone who lives with an eating disorder take an autism test. "Somewhere between 30 and 35 per cent of individuals with eating disorders may actually also be autistic, but it's likely to have not been diagnosed prior to the onset of the eating disorder," says Dr Amy Talbot, clinical psychologist and director of the Talbot Centre.
PhD Candidate, Laurence Cobbaert, knew she had an eating disorder but her autism diagnosis came years later. "I retrospectively analysed my entire existence. And I was like, 'yeah, this makes sense. This is it. This is me'. And everything just fell into place." Laurence says it was huge moment in her life. "It was overwhelming a sense of like rebirth to a certain degree. I didn't feel like I was broken anymore. I just felt like I was me. I was different. And there's nothing wrong with that."
She is so fascinated by her own eating disorder and autism that she is using her own experience to guide her PhD study. "I'm investigating the connections between autism and eating disorders"
Many clinicians, like Dr Talbot, are working hard to help improve the services available to autistic people who also suffered from eating disorders. But the situation as it stands now is much better than Sue Bloom remembers. Her daughter, Lisa, has lived with an eating disorder for more than three decades and has also been diagnosed with Aspergers. "The doctor said 'No child will willingly starve themselves,' talking to me like an overprotective mother. Another doctor said 'She's just a picky eater. You're overreacting, you being overprotective.' So I had many years of being considered a helicopter mum."