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“It’s not that they don’t want to access the support… it’s the impact of the autism”: the experience of eating disorder services from the perspective of autistic women, parents and healthcare professionals

Babb, Charli, Brede, Janina, Jones, Catherine R.G., Elliott, Mair, Zanker, Cathy, Tchanturia, Kate, Serpel, Lucy, Mandy, Will and Fox, John R.E. 2021. “It’s not that they don’t want to access the support… it’s the impact of the autism”: the experience of eating disorder services from the perspective of autistic women, parents and healthcare professionals. Autism 10.1177/1362361321991257

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Abstract

This study explores autistic women’s experiences of eating disorder services. Estimates suggest that 20%–30% of women in treatment for anorexia nervosa display diagnostic features characteristic of autism. Research suggests that autistic individuals’ needs are not being met by standard anorexia nervosa treatments. In the current study, in-depth interviews were conducted with 15 autistic women with experience of anorexia nervosa, 12 parents of autistic women with anorexia nervosa, and 11 eating disorder healthcare professionals. Using thematic analysis, three overarching themes were identified: misunderstanding autism and autistic traits, one treatment does not fit all, and improving accessibility and engagement within services. We found that there were diverse barriers facing autistic women when in treatment for anorexia nervosa, and these were accentuated by a lack of autism understanding within eating disorder services. Future research should focus on developing interventions that are tailored to the specific needs of autistic individuals with anorexia nervosa.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: In Press
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 1362-3613
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 8 January 2021
Date of Acceptance: 8 January 2021
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 11:26
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/137502

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