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Autism and Executive Functioning Issues

Earlier this month myself and @miss.asd.mhadvocate decided that we would like to collaborate on a post. It became clear to us very early on that we really wanted to raise awareness of executive dysfunction and autism. This came after we both saw the current view of executive dysfunction that currently existed online with many examples referring to laziness or memes that gave the wrong idea. Here is the post we created, originally posted on Instagram, using our own personal experiences with executive functioning issues.

A lot has been written about executive dysfunction and ADHD but we really wanted to highlight the issues with executive function within autistic people.

Most importantly we wanted to highlight that executive dysfunction and laziness are NOT the same thing. It is not something that we can just pick and choose when it happens.

It is also not an excuse that we use to get out of completing tasks.

In this post we wanted to highlight our experiences of executive functioning issues and autism.

We understand why this may be viewed as laziness however executive dysfunction can mean:

  • Rereading the same two sentences over and over again but still not taking in the information because something was distracting us such as a fly or the colours on the page.

  • Trying to explain something simple but not being able to find the right words to use.

  • Going onto 'Auto Pilot' and loosing sense of where you are.

  • It is spending 2 hours moving from task to task without finishing them rather than spending 2 hours on one task.

  • You can spend the day doing lots of things and feel tired but not enough to feel stimulated so you are feel tired but not tired.

  • Needing longer to complete tasks that might be viewed as basic.

  • Having recurring interests but also having interests that change on a regular basis.

  • You have too much on your plate that you loose track of the things that matter for example when you hyperfocus.

  • Starting a task before getting stuck and having to step away from it but then forgetting about it so tasks go unfinished.

Executive functioning is useful in the following areas:

  • Planning

  • Problem solving

  • Reasoning/Explaining

  • Initiating

  • Prioritising

This means that it can have a negative impact on us when we are experiencing executive dysfunction, especially when we don't know when it is going to happen.

This can include:

  • Getting annoyed and frustrated when we can't figure out where to start.

  • Increased anxiety when we can't work out how to do a task.

It is difficult to manage executive dysfunction it isn't a choice and can't be predicted.

Ways to understand executive functioning issues

  • Imagine you are asked to hold 100 marbles and everyone else is being provided with a bag except you. It is impossible to work out how to start the task.

  • It is like trying to get through a maze and all the wrong turns represent issues you face with executive dysfunction.

Please go and take a look at @miss.asd.mhadvocate and @emilyautism on Instagram for more content!


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