Just so you know: The Executive Function is an ability we all have in our cognitive processes. It helps a person to know when and how to start or delay reactions to the environment, and to shift and sustain attention in order to prioritise the reactions.
It is the ability to plan, organize and manage everyday tasks, whether simple or complex. Executive functioning allows us to develop and apply problem-solving skills as circumstances call for them. Everyone needs executive functioning skills in order to deal with the stream of decision points we encounter throughout every day. People who are Autistic have varying degrees of impairment in their Executive Functioning. This can be very debilitating.
What this means? I can explain hopefully by giving you a window into my own life experience.
One morning I got up, started the day with my conscious breathing, and let the thoughts roll in.
What I planned to do that day.
(Now I know this kind of thinking is hard for various people, people with anxiety, recovering from trauma, depression, chronic pain etc.,
Did you know that most of us Autistic people suffer with all those comorbid conditions as well).
My plan for the day looked something like this:
1Go up town to get shopping
6Study …. Just some of the things but you get the idea.
That morning in particular I was feeling irritable and I hadn’t slept well. I felt overwhelmed at the sheer amount of planning and interaction with others that lay before me. Take one activity from my plan; shopping for example:
Get dressed and makeup on
Remember bags and shopping list.
Find car keys
Remember to lock up
Find parking space
Go into shop which means meeting people and interacting
Go to checkout
Remember car park ticket and find it in handbag
Find car keys in handbag!
Carry stuff in when eventually parked at home.
Put stuff away.
Usually when I’ve completed a shopping trip I’m exhausted mentally and physically. There’s not much left of me for the rest of the day. How do I explain that to Nuerotypical people? The exhaustion is devastating and only sleep can restore the lost energy.
Usually I cope well. I’ve learned to take small steps towards achieving a goal. To be gentle with myself and hold compassion as I would do for others. That morning, because I was tired, I stayed in bed. It was all too much.
Anyway so …
I was exhausted.
As I moved amongst people
I felt my energies drop and stop a smile from reaching my face.
I walked past people.
And cos I was tired I didn’t make eye contact.
My body felt heavy and sore
Inside negativity swirled
A rarity still, I was beyond being ‘nice’.
in a moment of clarity.
Here it is …
Whenever another doesn’t connect or be.
It’s not about me
It never is
It’s not personal
It’s what’s going on in their own world.
It’s not about me
It’s all about me
To love anyway
Love the stranger
Love Self more
Do it anyway
So once in a while,
spread the smile,
share the love
~ Kathy Barenskie
#autistic #executive-functioning #overwhelmed #exhaustion