Day 29. Talk about executive functioning. Do you experience executive dysfunction? How do you deal with it?
This is one of the first questions I did not understand, as I did not know what executive functioning was … So I had to go away and read up on it quickly … and JESUS GOD DAMN CHRIST … I have just learnt so much more about myself as an autistic person and this may actually help me to make my life and my family’s life better.
So executive functioning is the broad term referring to the cognitive processes that help us regulate, control and manage our thoughts and actions.
- working memory
- problem solving
- verbal reasoning
- cognitive flexibility
- initiation of actions
- monitoring of actions
I suffer from dysfunction in all of these areas, now I’ll talk a little about how I suffer dysfunction in these areas.
To anyone on the outside, I may look like someone who just shys away from housework out of laziness. Now I’m not saying sometimes I don’t, but most the time it is due to an issue I have with planning.
When I look at an unclean house, I want to clean it, the main problem I have is I don’t know where to start. Eventually I make a start (about an hour or two has passed), I’ve done the dishes, it has taken a while but I have done it. Now where do I go? I try to assess what would would be my next starting point, I get overwhelmed my head hurts. Now its dinner time and the kids need food, I’m hungry too. How can I do two different meals simultaneously? Not effectively apparently, before I know it everything is burnt, I’ve dirtied loads of dishes, but I’ve just done the dishes, what to do with these new dishes? Shit I spilled something, better use a tea towel, all the tea towels are dirty. Why are they all dirty? Because I was meant to do the washing, probably should have done that first.
Can I effectively problem solve? Usually when its someone else’s problems, the answer is yes. When its my own problems … Not so much!
Firstly, I find it difficult to identify when there is a problem to begin with. This only makes the problem that I am not aware of, a bigger problem. I’m okay with problems, as long as it doesn’t become problematic to my life, routine or plans. Problem with problems is, they usually do become problematic. If a problem does disrupt my life, routine or plans, I act like its the biggest deal in the world. To be fair, to me it usually is the biggest deal in the world, because until the problem that I can’t solve is solved, it stops my world. I get stuck on the problem that I can’t solve, and no matter how many times I’ve been stuck with a problem, I find it very hard to accept help to fix said problem. I’ll try the old tired problem solving techniques, i.e the ones that don’t work. If someone offers an alternative technique, I shoot it down, scared that the one thing that may actually solve my problem, will end up causing me more problems.
Verbal reasoning is the ability to understand, analyse and think critically about concepts presented in words. As an English student, this can be quite difficult as Essay questions are always written in an obtuse and awkward manner. I never understood why they can’t be written in the same way people talk, the hardest part of an essay for me is understanding what the actual question wants me to do, I am someone who needs clear and precise instructions. This bleeds through into my personal and professional life as well. If my partner asks me to laundry, the clothes will be washed but not necessarily dried and put away as she wanted me to. We have found a way around this as she writes clear instructions onto a white board in our kitchen, that way I can follow them, and tick them off as I go along. In work the same applies, you want me to do something, you make it clear, or you’ll find me doing something you don’t want me to do. Another problem in my education stems from my inability to take lecture notes, whilst also paying attention to a lecturer. My notes are usually insanely complex and difficult to understand after I leave the classroom setting. Texts and written speech can also be difficult to understand, I have difficulty reading the meanings in written language. This can lead to me feeling like someone is annoyed with me when they are not, or not realising that I have upset anyone until I see them face to face. I also have difficulty paraphrasing or retelling my stories as they can be long-winded and full of unnecessary details.
My attention span is short, but not always, if it is something I enjoy, it can get my undivided attention to the point of pure obsession.
Sometimes even the things that I do enjoy can lose my attention and when that happens I struggle to set my attention back on these things, and complete what I started. For example these blog posts about Autism, I started them months ago and they were meant to be created in that month. Yeah that didn’t happen.
This is due to my inability to concentrate on one thing at once. One minute I’m a student, then I’m an artist, then I’m running a community group, then I’m a fitness freak, now I’m a wrestler. To be fair wrestling has held my attention for a long time now. So I must be getting better at this stuff.
Another annoying thing about my autism is that it makes me want to strictly follow a rigid routine and schedule, which dictates that I must do things at a certain time and place. But it also makes me unable to do these things at a certain time and place.
I can also get easily … dis … tract … OOOOO pussy cat.
This one has ended up being quite a long one so I am gonna split it into two parts … Hope you enjoyed reading this … Part 2 will be done … soonish