Restrictive Eating Disorders & Autism; Awareness, Advice, Actions

Matt Kempen
Marketing Manager for ACAMH

Posted on

This is for delegates only.


Dr. Tom Jewell and Dr. Emma WillmottThe Intersection between ARFID and Autism: Assessment and Intervention

Dr. Rachel LoomesWidening the reach of family-based interventions for Anorexia Nervosa: autism-adaptations for children and adolescents

This webinar focused on ARFID and eating disorder presentations in Autism and will give delegates an overview of the latest evidence based research, together with advice for interventions.

Complex presentations of eating disorders in young people with Autism or other neurodevelopmental conditions can be challenging for professionals. We hope to provide clinicians with up to date knowledge of current research, helpful tips for clinical practice and an overview of specialist services in the northwest.

Recent research has highlighted the overlap between anorexia and autism and the need for the development of adaptations to existing treatments to better meet the requirements of autistic people who develop anorexia. This webinar will cover adaptations that professionals can make to better suit the needs of young people with Autism.

ARFID (Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder) was first introduced into mental health diagnostic manuals ten years ago. It is characterised by avoidant and restrictive eating behaviours resulting from a lack of interest in eating, avoidance due to the sensory properties of food, and/or fear-based concerns, such as worries about choking or vomiting following eating. We know that the ARFID pattern of eating is common in individuals with autism and that sensory sensitivity is likely to be one of the underlying causes.

Key learning takeaways

  1. Up to date knowledge of recent research into Autism & ARFID
  2. A greater awareness of eating disorder presentations in young people with Autism
  3. An understanding of setting up and delivering ARFID services

About the talks

Dr. Tom Jewell and Dr. Emma Willmott – The Intersection between ARFID and Autism: Assessment and Intervention

ARFID and autism frequently co-occur. This can raise various complex questions, such as where the boundaries lie between ARFID and autism, and what interventions should be offered. In this talk, Emma and Tom will share insights from research and clinical practice to help inform clinicians in their work with young people with ARFID and autism. The talk will include:

  1. Areas of overlap between ARFID and autism;
  2. Considerations for assessment of ARFID and co-occurring autism;
  3. Ideas about intervention.

Learning outcomes

  1. Understand the overlap between ARFID and autism.
  2. Understand the diagnostic criteria for ARFID and autism, and the considerations involved when assessing co-occurring ARFID and autism in children and young people.
  3. Understand the current evidence base for psychological interventions for ARFID, and how this can be applied clinically in children and young people with co-occurring ARFID and autism.

Dr. Rachel Loomes – Widening the reach of family-based interventions for Anorexia Nervosa: autism-adaptations for children and adolescents

Aims of the talk:

  • Recent research has highlighted the overlap between anorexia and autism and the need for the development of adaptations to existing treatments to better meet the requirements of autistic people who develop anorexia.
  • NICE guidelines recommend Family-based therapy as a first line treatment approach for adolescents with anorexia.

This talk will focus on describing a number of adaptations that can be made to family-based treatments for anorexia when working with an autistic young person and their family.

Learning outcomes

  1. Overview on relevant research in autism and eating disorders field
  2. Have an understanding of the rationale for adapting treatment
  3. Go away with new ideas for adapting family-based therapy for autism and eating disorders.

Dr. David Ochando, Emily Birch, and Frances Wilkinson – Lessons learned from setting up and delivering an ARFID service within a generic CYP CEDS team

In 2018, the Manchester and Salford Community Eating Disorders service was selected to be one of the NHS England Arfid Pilot sites. This talk will focus on lessons learned over the last 6 years of service delivery. What we know now, what we wish we had known, and questions we still have to answer. The provision of arfid services across the country is a high priority topic at the moment. There is much discussion and debate. We believe we have useful experience to share.

Learning outcomes

  1. To develop an understanding of the particular needs of the population you may be working
  2. To think about striking right balance between intervention and acceptance – how do we help children / young people to thrive?
  3. To recognise importance of good MDT working both within service and across agencies (and how to develop this).
  4. To develop understanding about what services an arfid team could / should provide.


Emma Willmott

Dr. Emma Willmott
I am a Clinical Psychologist specialising in Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) with a special interest in its co-occurrence with neurodivergence. I have been lucky enough to work across various services specialising in ARFID including the Feeding and Eating Disorders Service at GOSH, the ARFID Service at SLAM and the Complex Feeding Clinic at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital. Additionally, I have a background in neurodevelopmental conditions, including working in autism assessments in CAMHS and adult NHS services.

Tom Jewell

Dr. Tom Jewell
Tom is a mental health nurse and family therapist with clinical and research interests in CAMHS and eating disorders. He works as a lecturer at King’s College London and works clinically as a family therapist at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH). Tom has worked clinically across different CAMHS teams, including specialist outpatient eating disorder services at GOSH and the Maudsley, and inpatient services at GOSH. Tom developed an interest in ARFID through his clinical work in outpatient and inpatient CAMHS. In terms of research, Tom completed his PhD at King’s College London through a NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship. His PhD investigated predictors of outcome in family therapy for adolescent anorexia nervosa. Tom is currently the principal investigator on a NIHR-funded study into the impact of calories on menus on people with eating disorders in England. He is also a co-investigator on a UKRI-funded study to develop an Eating Disorders Clinical Research Network across the UK.

Dr. Rachel Loomes

Dr. Rachel Loomes
Rachel is a Clinical Psychologist working in a CAMHS NHS outpatient eating disorder service in London, and she has been working in CAMHS eating disorders since 2016 (outpatient and inpatient settings). Prior to this Rachel also worked in adult eating disorder settings, has been an eating disorder researcher and has researched gender differences in autism. Rachel is currently undertaking a preparatory clinical academic fellowship at UCL funded by the NIHR. Her area of focus is autism and eating disorders in adolescence.

David Ochando

Dr. David Ochando
I have been the clinical lead for the specialist community eating disorders service in the Manchester Foundation Trust for the past 5 years. I am also the quality improvement lead in the Faculty of Eating Disorders at the RCPSYCH, and I also represent the Faculty at the Quality Network for Eating Disorders’ advisory group.

Emily Birch

Emily Birch
After 12 years in core camhs with a special focus on working with neurodiverse young people, and following post graduate study in the area of autism, Emily moved into MFT’s community eating disorders service in 2021. She now is the service’s designated lead practitioner for the MFT arfid service, (covering the Manchester, Salford and Trafford area of GM). Emily also works more widely in the generic ED team with a focus on neuroaffirmative practice. She offers training and consultation within and outside the service and also teaches on the Iapt North West autism and learning disability course.

Frances Wilkinson

Frances Wilkinson
Frances is a highly specialist mental health dietitian with a special interest in helping young people with eating disorders. Frances has worked in Manchester community eating disorder service for almost seven years and has been instrumental in the development of manchester’s ARFID service since it’s fruition five years ago. She has a wealth of experience in the field of nutrition and dietetics having worked as a dietitian for the NHS for 18 years in various clinical settings across England. She is passionate about helping young people with a mental health diagnosis to improve their health and nutrition.


Add a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *