Patreon members and YouTube channel members had access to this video on Oct 23, 2022. The video’s public release will be Dec 21, 2022.
Being NeuroDivergent often means differences in executive functioning. As someone who’s Autistic and ADHD, there are multiple ways this can personally affect me, and I’m gonna share more about what executive functioning is and how executive functioning can present differently in people with NeuroDivergent brains.
If you’d like to know more, please do stay tuned.
According to understood dot com: executive functioning is a set of mental skills that includes working memory, flexible thinking, and self-control. We use these skills every day to learn work and manage daily life. Trouble with executive functioning can make it hard to focus, follow directions, and handle emotions among other things.
Now that we’ve got that very formal medical definition out of the way, let’s humanize this concept for a minute.
Let’s talk about executive functioning. It’s like you have a little executive in your head and they are organizing all of the things that you need to do in the day. If your executive is not functioning the way you need it to get things done, it can cause problems in your life
For example, the executive function is what helps control your ability to get into action, and start doing a task, or to stop yourself from impulsively acting on a task. Executive functioning is also the mental skill that is required in order to plan your tasks and activities and for thinking up the ideas in order of which you’re gunna do things.
When you have a difficulty with executive functioning, it can cause you to struggle with getting yourself going to start tasks. You can struggle with staying on task. You may also struggle with impulsiveness and being able to not blurt things out, or acting before you think things through.
All of these things are things you might see with someone who struggles with executive functioning.
As someone who’s Autistic and ADHD, this does have an impact on the way I experience my executive functioning. For example, one of my biggest struggles is when somebody gives me directions or instructions, holding that information in my head for short term recall, for later future use.
I don’t trust at any point in time that I’ll remember to do something I’ve agreed in spoken agreement to do, unless I’ve got that in writing or in some kind of a notification somewhere. My mind just doesn’t hang on to those little short term transient details, although my long term memory is forever.
As a young person in school, this would often be represented by me for getting to take home books, folders, spirals, or things I needed to do my homework assignments at school. Also, now, and as a young person, it would mean me struggling to know and estimate how much time I need to complete certain tasks.
Sometimes, even though I want to start a task, I can get stuck and I’ll sit there wanting to start the task, and for some reason I struggle to get the inertia to get going, to get started on a task.
Another thing, for me personally, with executive functioning, is I do struggle to keep track of things. I’m always losing and misplacing my things. There’s a saying in this household… if I can’t find something, I’m like, “I moved it and put it in a safe place so I wouldn’t lose it.” Which is always the worst idea ever, because when I put something in a safe place, that means I am now not gonna find it.
A big thing for me, as an Autistic Person with executive functioning, is struggling to switch gears and switch from different kinds of tasks, or switch from one task to the other. I know now, and having compassion for myself and the way my brain works, that I need to give myself extra transition time to switch between tasks, especially if the tasks I’m going to be doing are going to be tasks that not similar types of tasks.
For example, going from writing into conference calls, and vice versa, is something that doesn’t work very well for me.
I, having compassion for myself now that I know how my brain works, I do like the whole day today is a content creation day, and I’m just making videos all day, and then I’ll have a whole day where it’s just calls, so it’s one thing in the particular day, because I struggle with doing different kinds of things and transitioning from different kinds of tasks to the other. Difficulty with getting my tasks going, difficulty planning and organizing tasks.
I’m really, really dependent on external tools, and technology, and visual schedules, and prompting, and reminders, and all of these things, to organize my head.
I don’t have organizational skills in, in my brain, like in my head. I can’t organize in my head. I am completely dependent on external organization tools to do all of the functioning that isn’t happening here.
So for me, with my executive functioning, everything for me is out of sight, out of mind. If it’s not in front of me or written down and I’m not looking at it, it doesn’t exist.
For example, me taking a shower, it’s: the shampoo and conditioner. I don’t remember what step I’m on unless I can visually see which product is in my hair. I do a lot of moving the shampoo bottles around in the shower, to make sure I don’t do the same step twice. It’s really a struggle for me all of the time, but that doesn’t mean that some people who don’t struggle with this won’t struggle with it from time to time.
Our ability to access executive functioning can change, depending on how much mental capacity we have.
Even though my executive functioning is not my greatest skill, I can even have a time where I have a lapse in executive function, if I am, not doing well, or I have extra stress, or I haven’t gotten enough sleep.
This is true for anyone. If you are a NeuroTypical or a NeuroDivergent Person, if you are stressed out, if you’re not doing well, if you’ve got some kind of thing going on in your life that is taking away some of your mental capacity, you might experience a d-diminished ability to access your executive functioning skills, because people under stress don’t have as much executive functioning ability.
That’s the thing too, is if you have anxiety attacks, or if you have meltdowns, or sensory overloads, or any kind of emotional overload, where you are overwhelmed in your brain, you’re angry, you’re scared, whatever.
If you are overwhelmed, your brain is up in this high state of arousal, your executive functioning skills are lessened. They are shut off. They are shut down. This is regardless of your NeuroType, but for NeuroDivergent People, who are constantly being overwhelmed by the onslaught that is the world around us, some of us are constantly, or nearly constantly, in these heightened states of arousal, and it has significant impacts for many of us on our executive functioning ability.
So my executive functioning, be it still not my greatest strength, is better when I am in optimal conditions, if that makes sense.
All right, everyone. Thank you so much for hanging out with me this week. That’s the video about executive functioning and my experience as someone who struggles with executive functioning and what’s that like.
I would love to invite you now, as always, to share your own personal experience, if safe for you to do so, and you feel comfortable sharing.
I try to use my stories as a launching point for NeuroDivergent and Autistic conversations, so this is the time for you to drop those comments below if you are willing to share your personal experience with us. I, I hope to read more of what this is like for you.
Thank you everyone who shares. Thank you everyone who shares this video. Thank you everyone who hits that like button, who subscribes, who follows.
I am really grateful for every single one of you. Of course, as always, I do wanna say thanks to the Patreon subscribers, the Twitter super followers, the YouTube channel members, and the Facebook supporters, those of you who do that little monetary subscription, you help pay for things like the technology with which the blog is filmed on, website hosting, transcriptioning software, some video editing software I now have on my phone, that does captions.
None of that would be possible without the help and support of viewers like you. So you, truly, do make this possible, and I, I’m grateful for it… so thank you, everyone of you!
Also just wanna drop out there, the new book on NeuroDiversity and organizational workplace culture is coming out just in time for Thanksgiving.
Right now, one of the most important things for me, as someone who is self-publishing, to get more eyes on this book that I hope will really change businesses, if we can get them to read it, is that we can get this book into the hands of people that need to see it. So if you can call your local libraries and request, they add this book to their shelves.
If you buy a copy for yourself, buy a copy for your boss, buy a copy for someone else. I’m gonna try and keep the book at a really great price point, so it’s gonna be really affordable so we can really afford to get this book out to people. I really, really want everyone to have this information.
I’m really excited about it, and this book wouldn’t be possible without my Patreon subscribers, my YouTube channel members, those of you who did that monetary subscription to help me pay for the self-publishing expenses.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m eternally grateful and more books coming soon… stay tuned for those updates.
I will talk to you all next Wednesday. Bye.
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2 thoughts on “Executive Functioning Differences and NeuroDivergent People – My Autistic ADHD Experience”
This was interesting to read. My executive functioning is affected by disease – inflammation on the brain. Many of these things resonate. I had thought that impulsivity was part of it, but that makes sense. I have trouble with short term memory and organizing tasks – which makes cooking difficult. The brain is such an intriguing thing.
You can use the combined shampoo/conditioner types. One less bottle to hassle with and it works better for relatively short hair.