Why eating disorder treatment will never “work” for autistic people

autism recovery

What if: instead of trying to find a treatment for eating disorders that “works,” more providers focused on creating an environment safe enough for an individual to do the work?

Eating disorders are adaptations to a lack of safety.

Someone’s perception of safety is a holistic experience, meaning eating disorders are not merely “mental illnesses.” They’re full-body manifestations of unresolved trauma – trauma being defined not as an event or sequence of events, but the impact the event(s) had on your nervous system in the absence of a compassionate witness.

Being autistic in a neurotypical world can be traumatizing. The existential angst that arises from the overwhelm of infinite choices or following the “wrong” path can be enough to prompt seeking refuge in an eating disorder – which by definition, narrows choices and creates the delusion that engagement with the illness is the “right” course of action.

When said autistic individual is “treated” for their eating disorder(s), several therapeutic modalities are often forced upon them. Personally, I was forced to engage in DBT, CBT, FBT, ACT, and multiple other “evidence based” methods. But nothing ever worked…

While many of the “treatments” may have been labeled “gold-standard” and “evidence-based,” the way in which they were inflicted upon me created a perceived sense of danger. They robbed me of my autonomy and choice, which only led to clinging more tightly to the eating disorder – the one thing that I could rely on to feel safe.

So what did work for me to fully recover from my eating disorder as an autistic person? Me. I worked. Nothing external saved me, because safety is not an external experience. If you want to learn exactly how I did it, read (or listen!) to my book Rainbow Girl. Now also available as an audiobook!

Want to learn how to navigate ED recovery as an autistic person?

Listen to my FREE TRAINING teaching you how to use your autistic traits to your advantage in ED recovery 💪