Eli5 What is executive disfunction?


Eli5 What is executive disfunction?

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Hi, I have executive dysfunction. For context, it has quite a lot of overlap with ADHD (which I was originally diagnosed with) and ASD (which I suspected I had later in life) [Side note, the difference is that if you had no developmental disorders as a child, that doesn’t count as either disorder]

ExDy for me is like, you know how you have your laundry? It’s there, it’s been there for weeks, and you want to do it. But you can’t. Why? You literally just can’t. Your body won’t do it even though you tell yourself over and over “Man I really gotta go do that”. My ability to Execute tasks is Dysfunctional. You can look up the concept of energy spoons to really get this idea. I know that doing something good for myself will make me feel better, but I still can’t get myself to do it

In the broader sense this extends to several categories:

Inhibition (being able to stop yourself)

Shift (being able to move from one task to another)

Self Regulation (being able to calm down and think)

Initiation (being able to start tasks, like I mentioned)

Working Memory (being able to recall what someone said you two seconds ago)

Organization (being able to manage your time)

Social Awareness (being able to understand how you affect others and picking up on social cues)

A lot of what I mentioned above is also a lot of the problems you see with ADHD and ASD. ADHD has way too much shift, little inhibition, and awful working memory. ASD has 0 social awareness and bad self regulation. However while those disorders have their stats dialed to 11 for some, while the rest are on 2s, mine would be like 5s across the board

Basically this all boils down to… you don’t work like other people do. And you’re very aware of it. To me, it feels like everyone else has been on NG+ the entire time and I’m in a never ending tutorial. Dealing with ExDy takes a lot of mental effort, and sometimes I still don’t get much done, but since learning about it I’ve been able to manage it much much better

Executive functions are cognitive abilities that drive goal-oriented behavior and are critical to the ability to adapt to the environnement.

They can be divided into 4 categories :working memory, inhibition, set shifting, and fluency.

Dysexecutive symptoms can occur in most neurodegenerative diseases and in many other neurologic, psychiatric, and systemic illnesses. Therefore people with dysexecutive functions have trouble with time management,
paying attention or switch focus plan and organize stuff.

It took me two months to do something that it actually took about 4 days to do. Instead of doing it in the first four or even seven days, I stressed about it for weeks and weeks, sitting in front of the computer and hating myself. I wanted to get it done so badly, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. It’s self-destructive and I hate it. If I’m not passionate about doing it, the likelihood that this happens with a task goes way up. I get it done eventually, usually just in the nick of time when my adhd brain goes into hyperdrive survival mode, but life could be so easier for me if I would just do it earlier.

I have ADHD, and I explain it by contrasting it to laziness. When you are being lazy you don’t want to do something, when you are experiencing executive dysfunction you want to do something but can’t. It looks very similar from the outside, but I find myself almost screaming inside my head “please get up and do some laundry and start on your homework, I don’t want to have to deal with the consequences.”

Your executive function is, ELI5, responsible for determining what you’re paying attention to at any given time. It’s responsible for your ability to follow through on tasks, remember information, and switching your attention from topic to topic.

In “normal” people, this executive function is kind of subservient to *you*. (Not really, but this is ELI5, not ELI have a masters’ in neuropsychology). Neurotypical people get bored, distracted, all that, but they generally have a solid ability to focus on something when they want to.

People with executive dysfunction–so “anyone with ADD or a related issue”–can’t do so very easily. Their attention wavers and they have a hell of a time staying focused on something–or, alternatively, on breaking focus on something. Both the inability to pay attention and the inability to stop paying attention to something they’re not supposed to be paying attention to are executive function issues. That’s why you can see a kid with ADD struggle with his math homework but play video games until the sun comes up.