Disorders of eating are common in people with autism. This may be due to sensory differences in food, a tendency to be overfocused on routines around eating or exercise, or due to using food to manage difficult emotions.
Many people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) eat restricted diets due to sensory differences. These are not eating disorders in the way that anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa are diagnosed but for some, may present as a disorder of eating. This type of disorder is called Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) and is characterised by very limited variety and little interest in eating. This group of individuals often presents with poor nutrition and growth difficulties.
Treatment requires a medical examination to make sure there are no medical conditions leading to feeding problems, as well as a combined nutritional, medical, and psychological approach to the difficulties.
Research does suggest that autistic characteristics might be more common in women with anorexia nervosa.