Kyland Young: Navigating Mindfulness and Affection on the Spectrum.

The 32-year-old reality TV star and content creator, was diagnosed with autism two years ago. He recently opened up about his late diagnosis with the Heal Squad team, sincerely detailing the impact it’s had on his life, which includes all the ups and downs. 

You might know Young from his time as a contestant on Big Brother 23 and The Challenge: Battle for a New Champion, or from his strong online presence, highlighted by an Instagram following of 165,000. Young understands the everyday trials involved with and the public’s assumptions regarding autism, but finds his diagnosis to be one of profound nature, taking it fully in stride.

The Search for Love

According to Young, he’s thought about dating someone else on the spectrum before, and in realizing that they might not be as sensitive to certain things, he’s come to appreciate this. Young revealed that there is a “relatability and less you have to explain” while talking to someone with autism, almost like an unspoken understanding of one another based on this similarity alone.

“It’s like any part of your identity,” Young said. “There usually can be a difference; there can be a shared understanding for someone.” 

Young says a major flaw between people, in the dating world specifically, is when folks interact with others who aren’t looking for the same thing as themselves. It’s through this lack of communication that people so often misalign with each other while looking for romantic partners.

Processing and Overstimulation

Young says that learning how to process what’s going on around him and trying not to get overstimulated are areas he’s trying to better himself in. Young pointed to an instance where he and his friends planned on seeing a movie, but decided to do a different activity instead. This slight change in schedule, Young explained, brought on an overwhelming feeling, as it wasn’t the original plan the group had in place.

“I was like, ‘I need to go downstairs, by myself, for 15 minutes,’” Young said. “Otherwise I’m going to panic because this is different from what we talked about.”

Mentally preparing himself to be in stimulation helps Young quickly adjust in real-time situations, as it points to the possibility that plans can easily shift and are generally malleable.


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Personal Relationships and Betrayal

For outsiders looking into the world of reality TV, Young keeps it real and says that betrayal was common among his fellow contestants on Big Brother 23 and The Challenge: Battle for a New Champion. Yet, Young knows the high stakes situations and close proximity likely caused this, and remembers candidly telling his peer, Derek, that contestants are “actively here” to go after one another.

“I remember one of my favorite conversations was with my friend Derek and he said, ‘I just feel like everybody’s out to get me,’” Young said. “I was like, ‘Well, because they are. Literally, that is actively why we’re here.’”

Such direct, but sincere remarks can be attributed to Young’s respect for an unlikely character. Young calls the notable Star Trek character, Spock, “an autism hero,” and someone, albeit in a tongue-in-cheek way, that he’s looked up to while learning about life on the spectrum.

“Spock is an autism hero,” Young said. “In the community, as I’ve learned about it, everyone’s like, ‘Yeah, Spock is that guy.’” 

Blocking out the Noise

Young stresses the idea that there are far more negative voices than positive ones from reality TV viewers. He refers to the negative voices as being smaller in number, but far louder and more hurtful to one’s psyche. And that is generally true for most human beings, as we tend to focus not on what we did well, but why someone is mad at us, for example.

But with Young’s autism diagnosis comes an interesting benefit. Young understands that audiences don’t know what goes on behind the scenes of their favorite shows and considers himself “much less affected” by the outside noise because of this.

“Since I think about all of this all the time, I definitely notice how much less affected I am,” Young said. “People don’t know and they’re coming from a situation of ignorance.”

Simply realizing that negative comments largely stem from places of ignorance helps Young stay focused and on a solid path forward.

You can watch the full episode of Heal Squad x Maria Menounos with Kyland Young below!

About the Author

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Robert Hughes

Robert Hughes is a Junior at Iona University, majoring in media and strategic communications, and an intern at AfterBuzz TV. In his free time, Robert loves to spend hours practicing the bass guitar and hunting for his favorite artists at vinyl record shops.