Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), as the not-very-appealing name suggests, relates to issues around eating. This is another commonly co-occurring condition for autistic people, ADHDers and anxiety sufferers.

This condition includes avoiding particular foods and/or restricting the amount of food eaten. Autistic people often have hypersensitive taste or sense of smell, making some foods completely intolerable. I, for instance, absolutely cannot eat posh crisps, or anything of that nature, because of the pain in my head caused by such a dreadful noise. The sight of an entirely beige-coloured meal turns my stomach, and yet I could eat mashed potato, peas and butter for every meal for the rest of my life and be happy! ‘Boingy’ meat is the number one worst food texture for me – and I’m much happier eating vegetarian or vegan.

So, some of us have issues with colour, texture, temperature. Some have all of these issues, or different ones. We may have strong associations with the feeling of being full, which might feel horrible to us, or the fear of throwing up. It’s a very long list and unique to each person. What’s not unique is that ARFID can cause serious social anxiety, a sense of shame and physical health problems, to name but a few.

Those of us who have poor interoception, who may be hyposensitive to (lacking in) feelings of hunger, may under-eat because our mind and body aren’t communicating effectively with each other.

Having said all that, I know a number of people with ARFID who are perfectly physically healthy on an incredibly narrow and repetitive diet. Once again, it’s about balance and it’s different for everyone.

All of these are examples of disordered eating. What ARFID isn’t is bulimia or anorexia, which are eating disorders caused by issues around body image, mental health, a need for control, amongst others. These too can co-occur for autistic people.

Yet again, this is a complicated and sensitive area and I’m no professional, though I do have very personal experiences within my family. I’ve added a link to Beat – the UK’s eating disorder charity, both here and in the Information section, to get you started if you want more help and advice.