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Why do autistic women develop restrictive eating disorders? Exploring social risk factors

Baker, Hannah; (2020) Why do autistic women develop restrictive eating disorders? Exploring social risk factors. Doctoral thesis (D.Clin.Psy), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis seeks to understand why women with Autism Spectrum Disorder (‘autism’) are more likely to develop restrictive eating disorders (‘REDs’). Part 1 is a conceptual introduction exploring the wider topic. To start, I introduce key terms and explore current understanding of autism among females, including the notion of ‘social camouflaging’; the masking of autistic traits and imitation of social behaviours, common among autistic women. Next, I discuss issues around prevalence and diagnosis of autism among those with REDs and the experience of eating disorder treatment for autistic individuals. Finally, a comprehensive review of the literature, outlining the multiple factors which might increase the likelihood of autistic women developing REDs, is presented. Part 2 documents an empirical study investigating the specific role of social risk factors for autistic women with REDs. It is hypothesised that difficulties gaining acceptance from others increases the likelihood of autistic women to perceive themselves as inferior. Moreover, that autistic women who attempt to ‘fit in’ through social camouflaging, are more vulnerable to such risk factors. Two groups of autistic women, with and without REDs, are compared on measures of social comparison, submissive behaviour, fear of negative evaluation and social camouflaging. Autistic women with REDs are found to compare themselves as significantly more inferior than autistic women without REDs. The clinical implications of the findings are discussed. Part 3 of the thesis is a critical appraisal which describes personal reflections on the research process, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and suggestions for future research.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: D.Clin.Psy
Title: Why do autistic women develop restrictive eating disorders? Exploring social risk factors
Event: UCL
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2020. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10112891
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