The Connection Between Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder 


Dysmorphic disorder (BDD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can co-occur in some instances. BDD is a mental health condition characterized by an intense preoccupation with minor or perceived flaws in one’s physical appearance. People with BDD often experience significant distress and may engage in repetitive behaviors, such as excessive grooming, skin picking, or constantly checking their mirror appearance.

When BDD and ASD co-occur, the presentation of symptoms can vary greatly. Individuals with autism may struggle with social interactions, communication, and restricted or repetitive behavior patterns. These challenges can intersect with the symptoms of BDD, amplifying the impact on a person’s daily life.

It is important to note that BDD is not solely limited to individuals with autism and can affect individuals across different backgrounds and neurodiversity. However, the presence of both conditions can present unique challenges for individuals, as managing the symptoms of BDD while navigating the complexities of autism spectrum disorder may require a multidimensional approach to treatment and support.

For those with co-occurring BDD and ASD, it is crucial to seek professional help from mental health and autism specialists who can provide an accurate diagnosis and tailor interventions to address the specific needs of the individual. Working with a supportive and understanding healthcare team can help individuals develop coping strategies, manage distress, and improve overall well-being.

Remember, seeking help and support is essential; nobody has to face these challenges alone.

ASD is a group of conditions that involve difficulties with social skills, nonverbal communication, repetitive behaviors, and speech. Autism exists on a spectrum, with some people requiring more support than others. Those on the higher functioning end of the spectrum are sometimes diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. 

Recent research suggests there may be an association between BDD and ASD, with some key similarities and differences: 

  • Repetitive Behaviors: BDD and ASD involve repetitiveness – whether repetitive thoughts about appearance flaws or repetitive motions like hand flapping in ASD. 
  • Social Difficulties: Many people with BDD shy away from social situations, avoid photos, and isolate themselves due to appearance concerns. Social anxiety is also common in ASD. 
  • Attention to Detail: People with ASD tend to focus on details, which can translate to noticing appearance flaws in BDD.
  • Sensory Issues: Some research shows a correlation between sensory sensitivities in ASD and body image issues in BDD. Discomfort with certain textures, fabrics, or clothing tags may contribute to appearance concerns. 
  • Rigidity and Routines: Individuals with ASD often have inflexible routines and may become distressed by changes. Similarly, those with BDD may have rigid grooming habits that they feel compelled to maintain.

While more research is needed, current evidence suggests treating co-occurring BDD and ASD requires a coordinated approach. Social skills training, cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, and family support may help manage symptoms of both conditions. Early intervention is crucial in preventing the worsening of appearance fixations and compulsions.

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My name is Adi, and I am the proud parent of Saar, a lively 17-year-old who happens to have autism. I have created a blog,, with the aim to share our family's journey and offer guidance to those who may be going through similar experiences. Saar, much like any other teenager, has a passion for football, cycling, and music. He is also a budding pianist and enjoys painting. However, his world is somewhat distinct. Loud sounds can be overwhelming, sudden changes can be unsettling, and understanding emotions can be challenging. Nevertheless, Saar is constantly learning and growing, and his unwavering resilience is truly remarkable.

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