F.E.A.S.T's Around The Dinner Table forum

Welcome to F.E.A.S.T's Around The Dinner Table forum. This is a free service provided for parents of those suffering from eating disorders. It is moderated by kind, experienced, parent caregivers trained to guide you in how to use the forum and how to find resources to help you support your family member. This forum is for parents of patients with all eating disorder diagnoses, all ages, around the world.

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I have a 24 yr old son,he is high functioning autistic.He has had an eating disorder since he was 5..But at the time I didn't take it seriously because he did eat everyday,just not as much and as eager as his friends..Some days he ate decent and others hardly at all.His pediatrician put him on meds which helped some if I could get him to take them..The last 2 years have been pure hell.Since he is autistic he doesn't like people so I am his only friend( that's a huge pressure in itsself)..He has refused any medicine or any therapy at all,often gets mad and slams out of the room if I mention eating at all....I quit work to be there on the off chance I could get him to eat during the dayday  it was a waste of time..Recently he pretty much will attempt to eat one time a day,usually late evenings( he sleeps till about 2 pm)but he mainly picks at it...Yesterday we had his favorite tacos and he only wanted one,ended up taking him 45 minutes and he only ate half maybe!!I just don't know what to do anymore.he is about 91 pounds now and should weight at least 135 on the low side,145 being decent..he is 5;7 ..he has never liked eating in front of people and will tell me he will eat in his room which the food is usually in the trash..Since I'm his only friend we play video games or watch movies in the evenings.I try to get him to eat but he gets mad and threatens to go to his room.i feel bad about him being alone so much so I don't push it...I'm not sure if I should tell him no hanging out until he eats or?? He is pretty stubborn..I am going broke triing to have all his favorite snacks and foods here but it usually ends up in the trash...In a two month period he has went from eating a foot long sub over the whole day to currently eating half maybe a few bites less in a day's time,usually no other foods.He picks at the food,takes a long time to eat and theoughly looks uncomfortable eating it.....I can't force him to do anything at this point because he's over 18...I don't know if I should make conditions to take him walking w his dogs or spending time,should I prepare the food and not say anything ,just have it on the TV stand in front of him or not do anything until he eats? He has always ate allot of times in his room( part of autisum I always figured) so we rarley eat at the dinner table.I am triing to get insurance to cover benecalorie so I can mix it in his drinks,that would help keep weight on him..I am also waiting on approval for ensure,he will drink this sometimes too..But I'm at a loss as to where to start at getting an adult who has adult rites( legally)but a teens mentality...Any insite or tips so appreciated

Dear Momtwo3kids,

Welcome to ADTD. You are right to be concerned and reach out for help.
Your son's BMI is very low based on what you are describing. Has he been medically assessed and is he currently under the care of a Dr? 

It is of course complicated by his autism. But usually what can help someone at home with an eating disorder is meal support, where a family member sits and eats with their person.
What help there on the ground do you have? 

You can have him sign HIPPA paperwork if you have not already, so that you can speak with his doctors.

Benecalorie would be a good idea, there are many families who have used it. 

Perhaps you could start a new habit in your house and eat together at the dinner table so that you can make sure that he is eating what you give him
It might also be wise to reach out to other families with children on the spectrum since eating can be an issue for many of those kids and it will most likely need to be treated a bit differently than a child who is not autistic and some of them may have ideas about how to do that. Or do a search on the forum here for autism and see what comes up.

should I prepare the food and not say anything ,just have it on the TV stand in front of him or not do anything until he eats?

Yes, that sounds like a good idea. Maybe you can eat together and watch tv.

Here is some info from the autism speaks website about eating behaviors and autism:


Hoping things will get better for him and you,






Welcome to the forum. Trying to get a clear diagnosis and if he is losing weight confirming he is medically stable is of course the first step. Autism does have strong associations with both eating disorders and disordered eating - and it sounds as though you need some clarity about this at the moment. 

If he has been restricting eating for prolonged periods then suddenly increasing his intake can be dangerous due to re-feeding syndrome so ideally there should be some medical guidance to this. Generally starting with three meals and three snacks is the first step, getting regular intake and then aiming for some weight gain. 
D diagnosed restrictive AN June 2010 age 13. Initially weight restored 2012. Relapse and continuously edging towards recovery. Treatment: multiple hospitalisations and individual and family therapy.
Unfortunately  he refuses most doctor care,he only will go to his primary care doctor because he has known her since he was a baby...triing to set up meals and snacks is completely useless.i can't even get him to take his pills on time or even at all anymore.he has issues with people watching him  eat,always has...if I am with him watching a movie or playing the game with him ,if he is going to eat that's when he does it...I am really going to try and find a good therapist but I don't even know if I can get him to go.. I know he has and mental illness and really needs to be getting help for that but I I dont know if I can even get him to go...it's so difficult when there over 18...he gets extremely angry when I even mention food or his pills and will hide away in his room for days..my only hope is the benecalorie and ensure if I can get approval for that...he has threatened if he is taken away( for assessment,here they only do a 3 day evaluation) that when he comes back he will kill the dogs and I believe that he  would  for sure do just that...he is I'll but thinks he's fine and normal..I just don't know  what to do..I'm scared of what he would do if I sent him away for help..he says he will kill himself too he has never done anything to himself or anything and he's normally ok tempered,but I do worry...
Your bio says you are in the USA. 3 day assessment sounds like you are referring to a 72 hour hold for psychiatric assessment. It actually sounds more like you need to get in touch with his primary care doctor and not a therapist. I would take careful notes of your concerns about eating and behaviours and discuss them with his doctor. As an adult patient she cannot discuss his care with you, however you can discuss you concerns with her. Then arrange for her to see him. Taking in AED admission guidelines may also be useful https://higherlogicdownload.s3.amazonaws.com/AEDWEB/05656ea0-59c9-4dd4-b832-07a3fea58f4c/UploadedImages/Learn/AED-Medical-Care-Guidelines_English_02_28_17_NEW.pdf  for her. 

You can then leave the primary care doctor to be the "bad guy" and let him know what needs to be done. The threat of self harm and harm to others is fairly common with ED. Commonly someone with an ED feels compelled to protect their illness, even as it is killing them. I was advised early on "don't negotiate with terrorists and ED is a terrorist" 
D diagnosed restrictive AN June 2010 age 13. Initially weight restored 2012. Relapse and continuously edging towards recovery. Treatment: multiple hospitalisations and individual and family therapy.