Autism Acceptance Month – Day 17 – Executive Functioning Issues

Executive function is a broad term that refers to the cognitive processes that help us regulate, control, and manage our thoughts and actions. It includes planning, working memory, attention, problem solving, verbal reasoning, inhibition, cognitive flexibility, initiation of actions, and monitoring of actions.

— Do you experience executive functioning issues?  How do you deal with it? —

Yes, yes I do. There are some days where simple tasks such as doing the dishes or taking the trash out seem very daunting. My brain literally cannot figure out the steps involved to start doing those tasks, even though I have done them many times in the past. Sometimes I get very overwhelmed just thinking about starting something, so some days I have to just rest to recoup my mental processing spoons.

Have some other examples of executive functioning issues: One might need to clean the living room, but they’re not sure which part of the room to start cleaning first. Or, they might need to figure out which thing to clean first to make room for something else that may need cleaned off. And so forth. What may seem like a simple task for many, is not for Autistics. We tend to get stuck a lot because we cannot move on to a different step until the current step has been completed. When we are having trouble with figuring that out we tend to get frustrated and overwhelmed.

So if you are having executive functioning issues, I suggest taking a break. Maybe read a book, or play a video game you enjoy for a short bit, or even take a short nap. I find those tend to help me get my brain calmed down a bit and to be able to think a bit clearer. Once I can think clearer, I usually have an easy time figuring out how to go about whatever task is at hand. If you still need help figuring out what to do, ask your close friend or maybe a family member to help you break the task down into smaller steps.

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