Saturday, August 10, 2013

Autism and Anorexia

Medical News Today discusses a study here that finds similar traits in people with autism and people with anorexia. For example, both have lower than normal empathy, are fascinated with systems (calorie counting etc.), and  exhibit rigid behaviors and attitudes. 

The co-author of the study concludes that  "Acknowledging that some patients with anorexia may also have a raised number of autistic traits and a love of systems gives us new possibilities for intervention and management. For example, shifting their interest away from body weight and dieting on to a different but equally systematic topic may be helpful. Recognizing that some patients with anorexia may also need help with social skills and communication, and with adapting to change, also gives us a new treatment angle."

This is a fascinating study.  I wonder, too, if it works the other way, i. e. if using some anorexia treatment for people with autism will help.

I understand that a new direction in treatment for anorexia is to somehow force the victims to eat.  This isn’t just to prevent them from dying;  it’s also because the disordered thinking and behavior of anorexic victims starts to moderate when their nutritional deficits have been remediated. 

Could that mean that people with autism are also missing some nutritional elements?  And that when their bodies receive this nutrition, their behavior and disordered thinking might moderate?

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