Aspie Update – Executive Dysfunction

It’s been a while since I wrote about Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome…and I have been reminded quite powerfully in the last 24 hours that, yes indeed, I am still an Aspie.

First came the sugar crash yesterday afternoon. I ate two cookies plus trail mix with M&Ms. Yuck! By dinner time, I was dragging my sorry tail into the apartment without a clue as to what to cook for dinner. Hubby saw that overwhelmed and deflated look and jumped in to rescue me. He can make some seriously good tuna mac ‘n cheese. Then I spaced out in front of the computer, to escape from what I know is Executive Command Dysfunction.

Every so often, maybe twice a month, I get this overwhelmed-ness with even basic tasks. If I am tired or sugar-whacked, this exacerbates the underlying issue of my Autism. Most people operate with a running hierarchy of to-do lists in their minds, or on a palm pilot or 3×5 card. I, and many folks with ASD, have a different operating system to handle daily tasks, or seemingly very little system at all.

When I walk through my apartment door, like last night, I immediately see all the things I need to do…but I cannot see where to begin. All the tasks hit me at once as intensely and immediately important. For instance, the disorderly bookshelf is as blaring, let’s say, as the cat barf ten paces ahead on the carpet. Of course, I have enough functioning to take care of the yack first, but the books are still right there almost screaming at me to straighten them out. And then the kitchen table wasn’t wiped in the morning…and the dishes were not washed…and the cat water/food/box needs freshening…and the half dozen unfinished sewing and knitting projects…and the 8 books I am reading….


You would want to hide behind a computer monitor, too.

Since my diagnosis last summer, I have made some baby steps (Bob, I love it!) in recognizing when and how these types of shut downs happen. I can cogitate on the problem…but have not made many strides (as in the article) on how to corral the haywire Executive Command.

Got some suggestions? Questions?


8 Responses to “Aspie Update – Executive Dysfunction”

  1. 1 cara michele May 29, 2008 at 11:40 am

    i totally get it. i also struggle with executive dysfunction. it goes along with “adult add.” i’ve tried lots of meds and i’m currently using a daytrana patch, but i haven’t had a lot of luck with the time management part, especially. i’m starting cognitive behavioral therapy soon. i hope it helps. it’s so frustrating!!

  2. 2 cbrunette May 29, 2008 at 11:55 am

    So with you, Cara Michele! A couple of my close relatives are taking ADHD meds and are having some success. I tried it for ONE day and felt horrible. I’ve considered CBT also, because I know it works in combination with drug therapy, instead of drugs alone. There are not any Psychologists around here who specialize in adult CBT, that isn’t an option for me. DIY CBT…LOL.

    The linked article I included has some really great tips, though the author is incredibly detailed. 😉


  3. 3 Amber Lee May 29, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    Wow this is exactly how I feel when I stop taking care of my Bipolar Disorder. My poor sister that I live with is a neat freak and occasionally she has to come over to my side of the attic and just sit on the bed and give me tips. Otherwise, I’ll look around, cry, and then go to sleep.

  4. 4 Alana May 29, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    Hmmm, that might explain much of how things don’t get done around here.

    NT who lives with aspies speaking here:

    Can you, at a time when you are not overwhelmed, create a hierarchy of needs list. Food first: that means if the kitchen is too messy to cook in, it has to get cleaned. If you are starving, find a way to get food. Clothing second (this works both ways: if you don’t have anything to wear, do a load of wash. OR if your place is so messy you can’t think straight, the first thing to do is get all the dirty laundry into the hamper or wash. that removes one layer.) After food and clothing, I say, take a break. The rest is unimportant. 😉

  5. 5 cbrunette May 29, 2008 at 9:12 pm


    You’d be proud of me…I cooked and washed [the nastier] dishes tonight! 😉

    In reality…we do get the basics covered most of the time. Our clothing care is in a good rhythm, though the hamper overfloweth at times. Whose doesn’t?

    The food cycle is where I would like to work on first…and then the cleaning. We probably eat out too much. I do cook at least three or four times a week, which provides some leftovers for lunches. Still, I could plan more. Execution is the hard part.

    Omigosh…there is the perfect Aspie Sonic commercial on tv right now. One girl is asking another, “Do you want some fries with that shake?” and the Aspie girl says, “Sure, fries sound great!” LOL


  6. 6 Amy May 30, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    I have to agree with Amber, this sounds like me when the bipolar isn’t going so great. I look around me and see so much to do that I get overwhelmed and lose it! I am getting better at managing it but I must admitt sometimes the only way to cope is go to bed and pull the covers over my head 🙂

  7. 7 Azie January 13, 2009 at 12:22 am

    I can totally identify with that. I suffer from executive dysfunction, and can feel overwhelmed at times. I was diagnosed about one month ago, so Im still adjusting to this new part of ‘who i am’ and which parts of me are caused by my disability.
    but as for dealing with it… the best piece of advice I can give is making lists! and as mentioned above, the hierarchy.
    creating these lists has become something I actually enjoy doing, perhaps because I know how helpful they are 🙂

  1. 1 Functioning with dysfunction : Chosen Fast Trackback on May 29, 2008 at 1:46 pm

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"I can't say I don't believe in your God, but I don't believe He meant the world to be as it is." ~Nicholas Higgins. North and South.

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