Autism, Eating Disorders, and Body Image: Through the Lens of Sensory Processing

Date: April 1, 2021
Author: Laurence Cobbaert

Laurence’s story

Growing up, I always felt different: awkwardly nerdy, highly sensitive both from a sensory and emotional standpoint, fiercely independent, goofily cheeky, and clumsy. There wasn’t really anyone I could fully relate to, and I eventually came to perceive myself as an alien that had accidentally fallen from a spacecraft to end up on a foreign planet, deprived of existential purpose and belongingness.

My first year of primary school was probably one of the most traumatic as I experienced selective mutism: I didn’t talk to anyone (not even the teachers) for almost a year. I couldn’t even bring myself to ask to go to the bathroom and would wet myself eventually after trying to hold it in for too long. Then, I’d be told off, as if I didn’t feel humiliated enough already.

I could technically speak – but not in unfamiliar environments. After school, I felt overwhelmed as I had spent an entire day in a chaotic environment and couldn’t cope with the social interacting expected from dinner time around the table: strong smells coming from every direction, noises from metal cutlery colliding with glass plates, chewing sounds, microwave beeping, family members talking.

My brain was exploding, it felt physically painful. To reduce my distress from prolonged sensory overload, I would lock myself in my bedroom to eat alone – only to be punished for ‘misbehaving’ afterwards. I felt alone, misunderstood, and sad beyond words.

From: Butterfly. Read more here: