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.
- A Systematic Approach to Living into My 90s - December 31, 2019
- Autistic in the Neurotypical Gauntlet - November 18, 2019
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. 🙂
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?
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.
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. 🙂
Yeah, healthy habits can definitely improve longevity (though there’s no way to guarantee it).