Updated: Jan 22, 2021
So this blog post will be about me talking about Executive Function in Autistics, and my experiences with Executive Function. Hopefully you can relate to these!
First of all, what does Executive Functioning mean? Executive Function is a term that is widely used in autism circles to describe a broad array of skills that have to do with an individual’s cognitive function. Some sources say that up to 80% of those with autism suffer from executive function disorder.
Some examples of Executive Functioning Disorder in Autistics are cleaning your room, time management, dishwashing, organization, and Sensory Overload!
Personally, I tend to struggle to clean my room, because I sometimes feel that on some days i do not have the energy to do it or am feeling quite lethargic. So, if you saw my recent blog, this is why i tend to do it in the evenings when im most active, if you get what i mean! Managing time can also be a challenge, because sometimes when diary meetings are set for me to attend with other people, i tend to sometimes forget even though its in my diary. Organisation can be also troublesome too, because even though some people say im a god organiser and may be the organised person they may have seen, sometimes my room and my calendar can become messy.. i sometimes have lots of things going on in my head at once, meetings, tasks to do, videos to make, friends to meet, and despite i just about do these tasks well, sometimes i break down and its not no ones fault that i do but its because of so much stuff in my head that it overpowers my brain, like vroom vroom, lol, imagine a car going at top speed but you do not fill it up with petrol, its like that, the thoughts are the speed, and the sensory overload is the override that burns my brain out sometimes.. hence i take breaks often, to try and steady that. otherwise id be a mess imo
Just a Note..
Now, despite communication issues, especially in public that can be a problem for Autistics, note that is not the case when it comes to Executive Function within Autistics, Us Autistics can respond, talk and engage with people but for me personally, sometimes its about organised quickly, like if i send a message, usually ill get back to person "x" but on days i have bad days that can take days to recover from hence sometimes my replies to people can be delayed. Autistic Children with Executive Functioning can sometimes struggle, with engaging in sophisticated play, or playtime, so if they want to play on the swing, a lot of the time teachers go out and help them do that, they do not tend to initiate the first exercise but wait to be prompted in order to do so because they have difficulty understanding or interacting with that activity, if that makes sense and have difficulty with executive function.
So Executive Functioning "labels" or "categories", now the reason I've put these two words in speech marks, is because i hate HATE LABELS, i hate labelling, and categorizing Autistics in boxes, but before i tell you why, ill explain the labels of Executive Functioning first:
So theres High Functioning, and Low Functioning across the Autistic Spectrum, and if you are autistic theres factors to level up where you stand on the Autistic Spectrum, first of all, how you communicate to others, do you need support? do you need assistance with talking and socialising with others, normally this is very prevalent in High Functioning Autistics than low functioning Autistics, The ability to live independently, can you live independently without much support, Can you write fluently, do you need assistance when it comes to writing, for example writing an email, or writing a letter. did you do well in education, did you need help at school, Jobwise how are you when it comes to looking for work. Do you need assistance, are you able to engage in activities, that require independence and group work? Among so many other tasks and work.
Notice that most of these "High Functioning Autistics" can do compared to and Low Functioning Autistics..
Now i am going to tell you why Labels need to be gone and waved goodbye, Labels like high functioning, and low functioning, need to go because with High Functioning Autistics, they may see themselves as superior to low functioning Autistics, High functioning Autistics are seen to need minimal help compared to low functioning Autistics and can do things with minimal fuss. Low functioning Autistics though may be ignored and their abilities may be wasted because of the comparison with High Functioning Autistics.
Also.. theres Binary which is another Label of Autistics, but their abilities to high Functioning Autistics may be limited, it sometimes oversimplifies Autism, and makes it confusing...
So why labels need to go is that it makes Autistic people feel inferior to the others being the first reason, they feel like they have no worth of being Autistic and it makes them feel helpless, and it creates competition, which is what we do NOT WANT TO DO! STOP labelling people, every Autistic is different and every single Autistic is unique or RARE in their own right, every one has their own differences and their own traits, we need to stop comparing Autistics across the spectrum to Other Autistics, there is only one Label and thats all of us Autistics put into one group where we all feel welcoming and valid of who we really are, cut the high, binary and low functioning stuff out and just focus on one label, The Autistics, with different abilities and unique talents, STOP LABELLING US AND JUST TREAT US AS ONE AYTE! to every single Autistic out there, your diagnosis, your experiences are Valid, your opinions are valid and most of all YOU ARE VALID!
So some ways in how you can take control over your Executive Functioning is:
To plan each day out, so despite sometimes my organisation being all over the shop, i tend to write what i have on every week in my diary, i use sticky notes, on my door, (Yes literally) to remind me as well, and sometimes use my phone as a reminder alarm to help me out.
Organising in different ways, so again i can be organised but im not the best at it soo, i tend to set away 1 day into cleaning, checking what i have on for the week, but sometimes, i just take it one day at a time, because executive Functioning makes me become disorganised sometimes, ngl. phone reminders, computer reminders, the lot really
Take breaks when you need to! because executive Functioning can be stressful and cause massive sensory overload, particularly for me, so always take breaks to be at ease with yourself.
Make time for yourself, its important to make time for yourself because, YOU are essentially important, like yes you have to cook, clean, loving others, work school life but remember to always look after yourself because i find this really helps my mind to be at ease!
sometimes, hen we speak to others, we are sometimes unsure of what to say, with complex questions, so please to non Autistics do not pressure us, we may not have answers to the questions you ask, because we are thinking about your actions, words and tone of voice, keep this in mind when communicating with us us we like to be very clear, and calculated when we speak!
So this is my take, on Executive Functioning and Labels