What is Executive Dysfunction? And how does it impact the life of those with an Autism Spectrum Condition?

The topic tonight is executive dysfunction. This is a common problem for those of us on the spectrum. I find it quite an annoying issue. I don’t get anything done properly when I’m dysfunctioning. Tasks like cleaning are one of the hardest for me to do when I’m in this mode. Planning and organising these is generally something that I do not do in every day life. I feel that if I plan stuff and organise things in advance because I am always convinced that it will never be what I or others expect.

The worse times are when I simply cannot do any tasks. I just feel like sitting there doing absolutely nothing. I don’t have time to sit there and do nothing because I’ve got a list of things that need doing, housework is one of the musts but hated tasks per day. I am also trying to pass my Level 2 Functional Skills Maths which I do not find very fun but I need it if I do ever get a job. I experience more reluctance to do things if I find it hard. I currently have a struggle with washing my hair. I get lower backache while I’m doing that and it puts me into resistance mode due to me not wanting the ache. I never used to get backache when washing my hair. I’m probably just starting to age. I’m only 32 this year but I’ve had stress, abused painkillers and basically not looked after myself when I was younger. 

I have awful short term memory but my long term memory is quite precise. I can remember every word of conversations that I have had with others and days of my life from when I was small. I have to write everything down due to my short term memory being absolutely horrendous. It also takes me a few tries to understand a new task. The good thing is that I have a photographic memory to compensate. I can literally see a task in my head that someone has showed me. eg. knitting (most recent example) and see the way the stitches were done in my head. I honestly think the photographic memory is something I’ve developed to overcome the short term memory issues. I can bypass having to remember something from short term memory and use my creative skills to make a photograph of whatever into long term memory.

I’m quite strong minded. I have learned to adapt to many of the functioning issues that I experience. That has been hard. I have defied predictions. When I was young my parents were told I’d never live independently etc. I certainly wouldn’t be able to learn how to drive etc. However, I do both now. I’m hoping to work one day when my health is better. I know that I’m going to continue to have Autism but I hope that I don’t always experience severe fatigue if I manage to keep my iron levels high enough so that I’m not anaemic. I may be worn out now but I could probably build myself up to be full of energy by the time I hit my mid 40s. I hope that I’m less depressed by then too. I have had nightmares for the last two nights in a row. That is enough to kick depression off big time. Mother’s Day didn’t help to not feel depressed because it’s a constant reminder of my son having been adopted. All this doesn’t help executive functioning.