Anorexia and Autism

I wrote this on 20/10/2008 it really stands out as it occupied so much of my time seeking to support a number of girls who had anorexia, autism and also anxiety disorders.  Anorexia is such a complex disorder that i still have difficulty coming to terms with.  The psychology of it is very reminiscent of obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD) and I have found that many girls who have Autism also have some form of food issues.  I did learn a lot from these girls and was shocked at their harrowing stories of being locked in hospital units or on strict intervention camps where they would be force fed cream and Ice cream in front of the other patients if they did not finish their dinner.  For these girls a large comprehensive school was just not possible.

I don’t think I will ever understand anorexia and therefore will always struggle dealing with students who are suffering with it. We have a few girls at the moment who suffer from the disorder. Anorexia is very closely linked to body imagine and self esteem and that constant search for perfection. I know this but I cannot get my head around someone starving themselves to death.

This incident started last week when Lorrie a girl in Year Nine had a falling out with her close friend Jenny. Both girls have their own issues and on occasion both girls need to come out of lessons when things get too much for them. Lorrie suffers from anorexia and cannot cope in large group situations.

Jenny was not happy that Lorrie had come out of the lesson and left her all alone. At break time she told Lorrie how she felt and this caused Lorrie to get upset. Lorrie went to the toilets to cry and was comforted by a Year Eleven Girl, Charlie. Both girls share a bond as they both have anorexia however Charile’s condition is much severe.

So when Jenny came down to the girls toilets to ask if Lorrie was ok Charlie stepped in and started to tell Jenny that it was all her fault that Lorrie was upset and that if she kept bullying she would have to answer to her.

Jenny has problems of her own and is a very timid girl, so this came as a complete shock and she burst into tears.

I was confronted by Lorries learning support teacher and she asked me to talk to the year eleven girls about the problem. By this stage another Year eleven girl had joined in on the side of Charlie.

Jenny had taken a step back from Lorrie and decided to hang around some other girls in Year Nine. This caused Lorrie to become even more upset and she went and told Charlie that the girls in Year Nine were spreading rumours about her. In particular she pointed out Amy a girl who had recently befriended Jenny.

If you are still able to follow this you are doing well…..

The other Year Eleven girl was incensed that her friend Charlie was upset because Lorrie was being ‘picked on’. I have to mention now Charlie’s anorexia is coupled with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Asperger. Charlie has an almost obsessional relationship with Lorrie and is constantly checking up and worrying about her. As soon as I mentioned the incident to Charlie she instantly became concerned that if Lorrie found out or thought that it was her fault she would go home and cut or harm herself.

I met with Charlie and Amy after lunch and we went into the board room. Lesson learnt here: never think that you can solve every problem that comes along; especially when it involves complex conditions.

Both girls were very upset that they had been pulled out of class and were crying before I even outlined the complaint I had. Amy was incensed that she was always blamed for things and no one ever listeed to her. Charlie was also ranting incoherently about the fact that how dare we accuse her of doing anything wrong when we should have had the other girls in and be talking to them. The year Nine girls were too afraid to come in to the board room and went with the learning support assistant to the library. Lorrie at this stage realised that she had caused a massive stir and made a run for the door and was up the street dodging traffic. Thankfully she was calmed down by Mrs possum and brought back to school.

Back in the board room we were going around in circles and the girls would go from agreeing that we wanted to move forward and patch up the relationship to being in tears because the Year Nine girls were at fault and we wern't doing anything about it.

Charlie could not see past her conviction that the girls were ‘bullying’ Lorrie. As much as I tried I could not convince her that all of her information was second hand and it had been fed to her from Lorrie when she was upset. Where I did make a break through was when I said that my aim of the meeting was to patch up the relationship between Lorrie and Jenny. Both girls agreed that this was important. Where the conversation broke down again was the fact that the whole episode of the two Year Nine girls falling out had nothing to do with either Charlie or Amy. I didn’t get anywhere with this line of argument and telling the girls about vigilantes brought on more tears.

In the end the bell rang for the end of the school day and everyone left feeling exhausted after two hours of emotional outpouring. Charlie suffered the most as she broke down and started to rant about being re admitted to hospital because of the stress.
On Monday the Year Nine girls met and were able to mend the strained friendship and I was pleased to leave sleeping dogs lye. The Year Nine girls wanted to speak to the Year Elevens but it was decided for everyone’s sake that we would let it go.


  1. according to a research, anoraxic girls may exhibit autistic traits. know more
    link between anorexia and autism

  2. Thanks Aakriti, I did think there was research out there somewhere linking these two together.


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