Researchers who have studied girls with the eating disorder anorexia have found that they have many common features with people with autism.

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This writes forskning.no

 

More frequent autistic traits

They write further:

A study done by Simon Baron-Cohen, one of the world's leading autism experts, shows that compared to typical girls, those with anorexia have an above average number of autistic traits, writes Reuters.





The study also showed that girls with anorexia have an above average interest in structure and order, and below average results in terms of empathy.

There are symptoms, but less prominent, such as those we find in people with autism - which means that the two disorders may have common underlying features, says Baron-Cohen.





 

- Autism is often overlooked in girls 

He continues according to Reuters:

This new research indicates that the mind of a person with anorexia shares many features with the mind of a person with autism. In both conditions there is a strong interest in system and structure. Girls with anorexia are suspended in a system that deals with body weight, shape and food intake.

Common features between anorexia and autism that are mentioned are rigidity in thoughts and behavior, a tendency to be self-focused and a fascination for details.

Both also share similar differences in the structure and function of brain regions associated with social perception.

According to Bonnie Auyeung, who has worked with Baron-Cohen on the research project, there is reason to believe that many girls with autism are overlooked or misdiagnosed because doctors first see them with anorexia.

 

Tips for treating eating disorders

Tony Jaffa, who led the study with Baron-Cohen, says that the recognition of some patients with anorexia also has autistic traits, can be important in terms of providing new ways to treat the eating disorder.

It can help divert their interests from body weight and food to another but equally systematic topic, he says.

And he adds:

Recognizing that many patients with anorexia may also need help with social skills and communication, and adapting to change, may also provide new treatments.

 

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