Executive Function Differences and Difficulties in Autistic Individuals

Executive Function Differences and Difficulties in Autistic Individuals


Hey everybody, Ultimate Oddball here. Today
I’m going to talk about executive function difficulties among autistic people. Many autistic
people experience differences from non-autistic people in this area. Executive function consists
of the mental skills and abilities that allow people to begin, work on, and finish activities.
It affects planning and organization, memory, thinking and the ability to manage time. From
the outside, the actions of someone dealing with executive dysfunction may be perceived
as laziness or lack of willingness to comply. In actuality, executive function can be incredibly
frustrating, annoying, and even potentially embarassing for the person experiencing it,
and it should never be taken lightly or used to criticize that person. For me, I experience varying amounts of executive
dysfunction depending on my mental and physical state, and it’s likely that other autistic
people also experience variations in a similar fashion. The more overwhelmed and anxious
I get, the more difficult it gets for me to function efficiently in many ways, including
in relation to executive function. I do much better when I’m alone just by virtue of not
having to think about what other people are thinking or how I come across. Plus, I’m less
anxious. One thing I’ve noticed personally is that
when I think about something I have to do, my mind has a tendency to make a mountain
out of a molehill. My brain separates each individual action out, so it’s not just “doing
dishes” in my head, it makes a list of each action. Open the dishwasher. Unload all ten
or so cups, five plates, four bowls, and so on, then wash off each dish, then reload the
dishwasher piece by piece. Then I also think about how I’ll be standing there the whole
time, which is a bit taxing, and other things I don’t like about it, and when I add in how
long it seems like the whole process is going to take, I end up not wanting to do it at
all. Logically, I can remind myself that it’s a relatively quick thing, but it doesn’t feel
that way in my mind, and it is extremely demotivating. I’ve found that I have to make myself do things
one at a time, without thinking too much about what all needs to be done. That isn’t to say
I just jump into doing things without forethought; I think about it once or twice, or until I
know that I understand what I need to do and have a good grasp on it, and then I do my
best to follow through. It’s important that I hear it just enough to understand, because
if I continue to hear what I need to do even after I understand, and I just want to get
to it, it will irritate me considerably. Sometimes I don’t complete a task. Other times I have
to take a break and come back. I often get temporarily sidetracked while doing things.
For the most part, this is absolutely fine in my opinion. If you watched me, it would
likely come across as very chaotic, and you might wonder how I get anything done, but
I’ve found what works best for me. Here are some things that might help you or
others if executive dysfunction is an issue: make sure directions are clear, concise, and
direct. Give/read directions one at a time. If you add one thing after another to a list,
it’s likely some of that will get lost in the jumble. Try to avoid interruption once
you or they are on a roll. Don’t make things more stressful than they have to be or already
are. Executive function is difficult to deal with at times, so try to be patient and understanding
of whoever is experiencing it, whether it’s you or someone else. Don’t rush. And don’t
expect that learning coping skills or working at it will completely fix the issue. It may
get easier to deal with executive dysfunction over time as one adjusts to it, but it is
still a part of that individual’s brain, and thus will always be there. Some things, like
impulse control, prioritizing, and flexibility will likely improve over time, while others
will always be hard. It’s important in my opinion to work with how things are rather
than focus on how you wanted them to be. Well, thanks so much for watching, thanks
for coming by, and have a great day. Hey everybody, Ultimate Oddball here. If you
want to stay up to date with my videos, click subscribe. I release a new video on Monday, Wednesday,
and Friday. I do gaming commentary and review, I talk about my experiences on the autism
spectrum, and I share my opinion and thoughts on a variety of matters. My hope is that, through my videos, I can
help to dispel some of the misinformation, confusion, and negativity people have regarding
autism. Thank you for helping me do that by watching
these videos.

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