National Eating Disorders Association
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Despite recent progress, many autistic people’s unique issues around mental health and eating disorders continue to be misunderstood or dismissed outright. As the number of people being identified and diagnosed with autism increases, it is vital that both professionals and recovery advocates include autistic voices in the conversation about body image and eating disorders. 

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I used to go to birthday parties just for the cake. No, really, I did. I always found the social aspects of birthday parties to be incredibly difficult. Too many people, who was I supposed to talk to, would the birthday girl or birthday boy like the gift, and the food. Oh, the food. What was I supposed to do? 

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In kindergarten, my mother helped me put together an elaborate project about butterflies. When my turn arrived to present to the class, I cowered behind my teacher, absolutely terrified of the dozens of pairs of eyes on me. This pattern continued throughout school—even during my college years. I was so afraid of my perceived flaws that I kept my ideas to myself and starved my body in the futile quest of achieving perfection. 

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Many Autistic people have openly shared their struggles with body image and eating disorders (take a look at our Autism Acceptance Month #NEDAchat recap for reference), but their unique issues around food still tend to be misunderstood or outright dismissed by professionals. 

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Sexual violence advocacy is a world of two-sided realities. Survivors often share that they have mixed feelings in the aftermath and healing process. Some examples of these binary realities include:

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As a teenager, I’d often be in a group with other girls when the subject of our bodies would come up. My friends traded anecdotes on which aspects of their body they loved least, and what was wrong with them. Because I didn’t chime in, most people assumed I had fantastic self-confidence.

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In the beginning of April, I participated in a NEDA chat about eating disorders, body image issues, and how they affect me as an autistic woman. After the chat, I had so many thoughts swirling around in my brain. The questions and answers brought forth memories long forgotten. 

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There’s been no lack of speculation about the effects of social media on body image and eating disorder recovery. On one hand, social media has fostered a diverse and vibrant body-positive and recovery community. On the other, social media often serves as a platform for anonymous bullying and face-and-body-altering filters. 

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People often say that an eating disorder is about control and not about weight. They say it is about anxiety, not body image. I don’t know what my eating disorder is about. It’s about so many things and nothing at the same time. I do not have anorexia or bulimia, I have autism. 

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This Alcohol Awareness Month, it’s important to carefully consider your relationship with alcoholic substances. Today, April 6, marks National Alcohol Screening Day (NASD), and there’s no better time to educate yourself and your loved ones about the symptoms of substance use disorders, which commonly co-occur with eating disorders. 

According to a piece published on the NEDA website by Amy Baker Dennis Ph.D. & Bethany Helfman Psy.D.:

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