April 27th, 2017, will be probably the biggest day of my life. I hurt myself at work, I am a 52 year old male in construction, and it has led to a domino of effects. It completely hurt me physically but it changed the way my daily routine goes, if you have ASD that can and will rock your world. In the same light it has given me time to find some books that have really hit home. Well I read: Nerdy, SHY and Socially Inappropriate by Cynthia Kim. All these lights and sirens went off as I read, I learned of an autism test, so I took it, I discovered I was autistic, highly functional is what they would call it but I will just say I am functional. I knew self-diagnosis and professionally being diagnosed are 2 different things so I was officially diagnosed with autism DSM-5, commonly referred to as Asperger’s Syndrome, on July 21 2017. Finally after 52 years on this planet, I understood why I have never felt like I was supposed to be here. Now I have 2 reactions to my diagnosis, the first thankful to understand why I act the way I do and my total inability to deal with change, social interaction, and lack of wanting to or ability to fit into society, my second reaction is sadness knowing this is always how I am going to be.
There has never been a day in my life where I looked forward to living, every day for as long as I can remember I was a restless sleeper, I was full of anxiety and regretting the next day. Then about 30 years ago I convinced myself to just get up, usually around 2 am and start a workout routine. What I do is once I get my 2-4 hours of sleep I wake up, drink a protein shake do some inspirational reading, meditate trying to be positive, works occasionally, stretch my body ( since I have ASD my body is not very flexible), then do some weight training and cardio activity. Little did I know when I started this routine I was actually doing therapy for my condition, I am not going to say it cures me, but it helps me to make it through another day. I have always been physically active, but this was like I found my pressure relief valve, it helped.
This made me start doing some research in my area and I have found no gyms or really any type of facility that could help people on the spectrum train in a comfortable environment for them. I started thinking there should be some kind of program created out of the awareness that the fitness industry, school systems, and community based programs are not delivering the type of opportunities necessary to meet the fitness needs of people on the spectrum. There should be a program based on principles of human movement, while taking into consideration individual differences. This includes differences in age, physical thresholds, neurological diversity, behavioral challenges, communication and learning styles, motivation, and everything else that makes us unique as human beings. Trying to improve the quality of life for individuals with ASD through the development of relationships, the implementation of functional fitness, and integration into the culture built and cultivated within the walls of a gym environment. I believe that when you bring together individuals who do not believe in limitations, all things are possible. We should have a mission to shift the current paradigm that is producing an astounding rise in disease and to create a new way of thinking that will greatly enhance the lifestyle of people on the spectrum. Today’s statistics show that type 2 diabetes and obesity are on the rise in the Autism community. By keeping people fit, I hope to intervene and prevent these health issues and create a more positive, confident, and able-bodied people. Our goal should be to create a program that will greatly enhance longevity and elevate the quality of physical activity throughout all stages of a person’s lifetime. Whether they want to participate in sports, improve their ability to focus, feel more connected to their body, or just be healthier in general, we should want to provide the opportunity for all individuals to become healthier and fit. We all know the health benefits to exercising and eating healthy. Studies show any person doing some type of physical exercise 3-5 times a week for at least a half hour show significant improvement in self-esteem and physical health, and being on the spectrum myself I can tell you it is of even greater value to someone on the spectrum. My hope is to make a program accessible to all people with ASD so that they have the same opportunity to live a healthier, happier life, and being trained and helped by someone who is like them and understands their daily struggles with just living. I mean no offense to NT’S but if you do not have ASD you have no idea how hard it is to live, and express your frustrations at a world that was not built for you.