Higher weight and neurodivergence in childhood

Runtime 00:27:00
Released 28/11/22
Emerging Minds Podcast
Emerging Minds Podcast
Higher weight and neurodivergence in childhood

Evidence is emerging that neurodivergent children are at an increased risk of higher weight than neurotypical children (Kahathuduwa et al., 2019; Zheng et al., 2017). Factors associated with Autism and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can have a significant impact on a neurodivergent child’s relationship with food. These factors include food preferences and aversions related to sensory processing, executive functioning differences, and behaviours developed through rules-based thinking. Experiences of healthcare and disability services that are not neurodiversity-affirming can also exacerbate or contribute to disordered eating.

In this episode, Bec Edser speaks with child and family partner Annie Crowe, a proud Autistic ADHD-er with over two decades of lived experience of an eating disorder. Annie’s eating disorder developed in childhood and led to a range of experiences in accessing services related to her weight. Annie is a strong advocate for body diversity and neurodivergent inclusion and is the founder of the not-for-profit Eating Disorders Neurodiversity Australia.

In this conversation, Annie generously shares her lived experience perspectives as well as some of the insights she has gained from the significant advocacy work she has undertaken in this space. She considers how her experiences and expertise can inform helpful approaches to supporting children who experience co-occurring neurodivergence and higher weight.

As experiences of an eating disorder are discussed in this podcast episode, please be aware of your own emotional safety while you listen. If at any point you find that you are struggling, please talk with a friend, colleague or your supervisor or seek help from your GP or trusted health professional. You can also call the Butterfly Foundation’s national helpline on 1800 334 673, chat with a trained counsellor online or email [email protected].

In this episode you will learn:

  • the importance of language relating to food and body image when communicating with neurodivergent children [08:57]
  • what practitioners can be more aware of when working with neurodivergent children with sensory-based preferences and aversions that impact their relationships with food and mealtimes [09:43]
  • how practitioners can support neurodivergent children who are impacted by weight stigma and bullying in relation to their weight [17:28]
  • how neurodiversity-affirming healthcare and body positivity can support children with co-occurring neurodivergence and higher weight to thrive [21:26]

Further information and resources:

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