Autism is a developmental disorder that affects one’s ability to communicate and interact socially. Commonly known as Autism Spectrum Disorder, the severity of this disorder varies from individual to individual. It affects one’s nervous system, thus impacts their cognitive, emotional, social, physical and behavioural functions.
So, can an individual with autism live a normal to near-normal life?
It completely depends upon the severity of the spectrum and yes, they can indeed lead to normal and independent lives if they can manage their disorder the right way. In fact, you should know that people who fall under the mild to moderate severity of the spectrum are able to live by themselves, hold full-time jobs, as well as have long-term fulfilling relationships.
Lifestyle tips to live right with autism
Here are some essential lifestyle tips that can help one to live with autism the right way—
1. Keep the stress levels at bay
People with autism are synonymous with routines. They find happiness in things that are familiar to them. So, in all possibilities, it should be ensured that the routines are followed every day because a single miss in the routine can disrupt their peace of mind and stress them out. It could be something as simple as having a different meal than the usual for breakfast! Autistic people generally tend to have higher levels of cortisol (stress hormone) secretion when compared to others which can lead to weight gain, low immunity, high blood pressure, mood changes like anxiety, depression etc. They should be encouraged to reduce their screen time, participate in healthy indoor activities like yoga, meditation and other exercises to keep their stress levels low.
2. Diet and nutrition
A healthy and balanced diet is imperative for everybody, but for those individuals with autism, their food choices are pretty much the same every day. While that’s okay if the daily food choices are healthy, it cannot be overlooked that too much of anything is never good. So, for those with mild autism, it’s essential that they follow a healthy and balanced diet under the guidance of clinical dietitians while for those with severe symptoms, a caregiver’s assistance is necessary, of course. The key is to substitute the unhealthy food options with healthy ones and a dietitian would be the right person to fetch out this plan.
3. Ditching the sedentary lifestyle
People with mild to moderate severity of autism tend to be good at tasks that require a lot of focus and are thought-provoking. For instance, writing codes, drawing, solving puzzles, etc. While these tasks make excellent food for the brain, they also make one to sit at just one place, meaning a sedentary lifestyle, which is not healthy at all! It has been linked to various chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. So, it is important that autistic people in the mild to moderate spectrum are encouraged to be more physically active than usual. This can be done through moderate-intensity workouts like swimming, hiking, swinging, playing catch the ball etc. Some exercises like the punching bag and other team sports can actually boost behavioural skills and reduce aggressive outbursts in autistic people.
4. Following a healthy sleep cycle
People with autism are predisposed to sleep disorders and unhealthy sleep patterns. Stress and a sedentary lifestyle only make matters worse. Most autistic people face sleep issues like insomnia, hence it’s essential that they keep their stress levels low at all cost and also avoid sitting at one place for prolonged periods.
While an autistic individual’s quality of life is heavily influenced by the severity of the disorder, with the right steps at the right time, they can lead a fairly normal life as well. For any concerns related to your health or the health of your loved ones, you can now consult India’s top doctors online on MFine.