A Systematic Approach to Living into My 90s3 min read

Around the age of 23, while on sab­bat­ical from work. I started to read up on the real­i­ties of autism, or should I say, the reality of being autistic. Using per­sonal expe­ri­ence and sci­ence, I was able to self-diagnose in my early twen­ties.

Finding the average life expectancy of an autistic is 36 — 37 years old, I let that sink in for a few months as I started to battle with myself about what I should focus on in the next phase of my life.

After decades of faulty direc­tion by well-meaning neu­rotyp­ical indi­vid­uals, I started asking the uni­verse around me and chal­lenging my internal knowl­edge base, hard­ening myself and re-framing my life, wor­rying less about my rep­u­ta­tion, focusing more on over­coming my per­sonal feel­ings and com­mu­ni­ca­tion lim­i­ta­tions. I started to plan how to sur­vive into my 90s.

At the age of 24, I had been suf­fering from hem­or­rhoids. Being a soft­ware engi­neer, it was impor­tant for me to sit for long periods of time while I think about com­plex logic, debug­ging codes, and cycling through what I call a debug loop. It was my first real brush at becoming inca­pac­i­tated at a young age.

I was lucky. Some who start self improve­ment jour­neys have friends that hold them and drag them back­wards. I didn’t have any, and the uni­verse put me next to someone who would influ­ence my diet in the right direc­tion.

With Micheal, I shared my inse­cu­rity about being over­weight and not being able to main­tain a proper diet for long periods of time. Over the course of two months, we became good friends, me learning to trust what he had to say. Applying every­thing he said to research and improving my diet, I dis­cov­ered sci­en­tific studies that sup­ported his claims.

I learned a long time ago, people will help me as much as they can, but they won’t solve my prob­lems. Micheal got me started on a healthier diet, helping me improve my quality of life just by being a pos­i­tive influ­ence.

He would cook some­times, and I would eat what he had cooked. With Micheal’s guid­ance, my overall health was improving. I started to lose weight, and my hem­or­rhoids started to go into remis­sion.

The diet Micheal had inad­ver­tently put me on was the Plant Based Diet, increasing my car­bo­hy­drate and veg­etable intake. We would talk about the dif­ferent types of foods he cooked, sharing with me why he thought quinoa was such a great grain over white rice, intro­ducing the con­cept of com­plex vs simple car­bo­hy­drates to me. I was able to cat­e­go­rize ingre­di­ents, not just food types, to help improve my body’s per­for­mance. It was a com­pletely new learning expe­ri­ence.

Eventually, I would find a more direct path to the suc­cess for losing weight and get­ting into shape. Training to bike half cen­turies (50mi) over four of five hours, I reached the best shape of my life biking 127 average miles a week.

I then turned my focus onto under­standing the com­mu­ni­ca­tion dif­fer­ences between Neurotypical and Autistic indi­vid­uals. It destroyed my life and nearly killed me, but I sur­vived, and I’m here to share with you what I’ve learned.

Prioritize eating well over eating healthy. Sometimes taking a nap in the middle of the day isn’t pos­sible, but give it a try. Hack your diet with com­plex car­bo­hy­drates and fiber. You might find that you’ll have energy throughout the day… at least I did.

Change the way you think about food: less about plea­sure and more about med­i­cine. You can take a supplement(s) to achieve optimum mental state, or you can feed your body the nutri­ents required through food to achieve optimum mental state.

Exercise as much as you can. Sleep as much as you can.

Take every oppor­tu­nity to be kind to someone.

Mapping the com­mu­ni­ca­tion dif­fer­ences between neu­rotyp­ical indi­vid­uals and autistic indi­vid­uals is trial and error at that point. Be careful, try not to piss anyone off.  When I learned to share words with my peers, I was able to reduce my cog­ni­tive load while improving my nav­i­ga­tion of a hege­mony.

Today I’m 33, three years shy of the average autistic lifespan, and for the first time in my life I feel like I’ve under­stood enough.

If I’m lucky, I’ll live into my 90s.

 

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5 Comments

  1. Very nice article. I am a super­healthy vegan and yes, plant based diet is the best. I’m not sure that that short life expectancy for autis­tics is still valid. I believe it depends on the lifestyle, just like for neu­rotipi­cals or for any human being; lifestyle, genetics, stress. Our gen­er­a­tions’ life expectancy is around 90–100 years, we eat plant based, we exer­cise, learn to think con­sciously, pos­i­tively, avoid stress. 🙂

  2. And I think a lot of the “short life span” is due to 1. lack of respect 2. med­ical com­mu­ni­ties reluc­tance to treat 3. unwill­ing­ness to find a way to com­mu­ni­cate. Its sort of like what they used to say about people with Down Syndrome not living long. Well if you put someone in an insti­tu­tion at birth and dont give them proper food love and care what can you expect?

  3. My mom is reading up on health and appar­ently a plant-based diet can reduce all kinds of health risks. I’m sharing this in case anyone finds it helpful. 🙂

    It doesn’t mean never eating other foods, just trying to incor­po­rate more fruits and veg­eta­bles into your diet. Apparently they’re kinda magic so I think you should be proud of your­self when you eat them.

    1. Yes, absolutely. I am a super­healthy vegan, 41yrs old and look 10yrs younger:). There are many autis­tics who care about there health and some don’t, just like non-autistics. Temple Grandin, Chris Peckham, Anthony Hopkins and many other autis­tics are over 50, 60, 70. Anyone who has intel­li­gence to care about his,her health can live a long life. 🙂

      1. Yeah, healthy habits can def­i­nitely improve longevity (though there’s no way to guar­antee it).

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