eating issues

I have a a 12 year old son who has autism and has been diagnosed since he was 6.

He has always been fussy with his food, but just recently we caught him making himself sick on an number of occasions and we know of other times he has been sick many other occasion but we dont know if he has done that himself. He is also very underweight and all his bones are visible through his skin.

We had him back to camhs where we have been told it too early to diagnose anorexia  . Also they said to give him vegetable fats in abundance such as nuts seeds and fish !! not gonna happen !

Just after some advice really or similar experiences

Thanks claire x

  • Hi Claire 

    I am sorry that you are having problems at the moment.  I have posted a link below for an advice sheet that might be able to help you.

    I wonder if your son makes himself sick after he has eaten a certain kind of food or whether it is more random than that.  If he has a favourite food that you don't let him have very often because of it is not very good for him, then I would let him have that just to get something inside of him.  If he loves pizza, then let him eat it as much as possible because at least he will be getting something that he can keep down.

    I would also go back to CAMHS.  My experience is that they will never do anything unless you create a fuss.  Their advice about nuts, seeds and fish is, quite frankly, pointless and they need to think again.  

    I hope this helps

    Good luck


  • Thanks so much for your reply.

    I will have a read of the info sheet ASAP.

    Well they said to see if he gains weight and if not to take him back   !

    Think i iwll be back in touch with them.

    Thanks again Claire

  • Hi Claire,

    Lovely to meet you. Sorry to hear that you are having problems with your son's eating. We have had similar difficulties ourselves when our son was 15 and this was before we realised that he had Aspergers. We had a very difficult 2 years with him until we learnt about his particular way of thinking and had to adapt accordingly.

    The most important thing here is to try to stay calm. The word "Anorexia" can conjure up so many fears and distress for parents but the key is to try to limit your son's anxiety.  I agree with ColinCat let him have whatever foods he likes particularly if they are high in calorie. Maybe you can find ways to add extra oil or fat to the foods he likes in order to introduce more calories. 

    In my opinion it is important try to work out what might be causing the problem, if at all possible. Is it texture, smell or even colour of certain foods. Could he be obsessed with 'healthy' eating and/or exercise as our son is? A friend of ours used to make himself sick because he wanted to become vegetarian and couldn't bear to eat meat. If he has a special interest at the moment could this be the clue to it?

    Professor Janet Treasure is a Psychiatrist who has done some research about the link between disordered eating and Autism/Aspergers.  I believe she is based at the South London and Maudsley NHS Hospitals. It might be worth trying to contact her team to ask for some advice.

    Hopefully you will soon find out the reason why he feels he has to do this and things will get back on track.  The NAS helpline was of great support to us and you could also try the eating disorder support organisation called BEAT for some information and support. 

    It may also be worth enlisting the help of a nutritionist to work out a diet that he is happy with that would allow him to gain a healthier weight.  Please also keep going back to your doctors for some help as boys of your son's age need a lot of calories and can see a rapid weight loss especially if they are keen on sport. If you feel fobbed off by them, the NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) guidelines do tell the medical profession what you have a right to expect from them.  You should be able to find these on the internet.

    Good luck, I'm here for you whenever you feel in need of someone to offload to.

    Tracy x


  • Hi Tracy

    Thanks so much for your kind response.

    Well we tried the nuts and as you can imagine no chance ! camhs told us not to overfeed him but in my opinion i share teh same view as you both that eating something is better than nothing.

    We do have issues with texture, look and feel already, it was the weight loss and being sick that wa a worry. Camhs just seemed to think we could give him nuts and seeds and mackerel and it would fix him !!

    I not sure what has triggered it whether it be stress or control but we have noticed his repetitive handwashing has reappeared recently. We are all quite close as a family and i cannot pinpoint anything. Excercising is normal for his age and the only sport he plays is snoooker!

    We were told that it too early to say anorexia so we got to see if we can get any weight back on him if not go back, i must say the gp seemed more concerned than camhs.

    Thanks so much with all my heart for your advice and i am going to set about accessing help and contacting the places you have suggested.

    Thanks again Claire xx

  • Hi Claire

    Sounds like tadie123 has first hand experience and is probably best to guide you on this one.  I just wanted to add that we got a referral to a dietician via our paedatrician and he was excellent.  He did not just give us a diet but he was great at the psychological side of motivating our son to eat the foods we wanted to encourage, advice on supplements in various forms and ways of sneakng them into food and he has a fantastic understanding of ASD.

    Hopefully the one in your area may be similar.  In my totally inexperienced view, I agree with everyone else, let him eat what he wants.

    Good luck, I am sure it will turn out ok with you giving him such great support.



    Good luck.