Well, that explains ALOT...

I googled Executive Function and then Executive Dysfunction and then Executive Dysfunction and Autism and came up with some very interesting reading...

Lazy Kid or Executive Dysfunction? - I like this article. It was both revealing and depressing BUT at least it provides strategies of where to go from here.

Neurodiversity - This is just a list of articles regarding the executive function in autistics that I should probably read in the future but thought I would post here for easy researching for others (and myself for later.)

Evaluating the theory of executive dysfunction in autism - This report is very thorough and well organized.
What is Executive Function? (From this link)
"Executive functions are the higher-order processes that enable us to plan, sequence, initiate, and sustain our behavior towards some goal, incorporating feedback and making adjustments along the way."

"The foundations for learning are attention, memory, and executive function. While most parents would immediately have some sense of what "attention" and "memory" mean, they may never have heard of executive functions. And yet without these functions, so many aspects of our functioning would be impossible or significantly impaired.

"Executive functions (EF) are central processes that are most intimately involved in giving organization and order to our actions and behavior. They have been compared to the "maestro" who conducts the orchestra. But what are these processes? The whole topic is very controversial, but there seems to be a consensus that executive functions involve (at the very least):

  • planning for the future
  • the ability to inhibit or delay responding
  • initiating behavior, and
  • shifting between activities flexibly

"If we break down the skills or functions into subfunctions, we might say that executive functions tap into the following abilities or skills:

  • Goal
  • Plan
  • Sequence
  • Prioritize
  • Organize
  • Initiate
  • Inhibit
  • Pace
  • Shift
  • Self-monitor
  • Emotional control
  • Completing

"We will consider these skills in more detail later in this article, but for now, it should also be noted that in considering executive functions, we will also be talking about "working memory," which is not purely an executive function but overlaps executive functions, attention, and memory. Also, although "emotional control" is included in this list, it is not a purely executive function."


Let us take a closer look at each of the functions we identified earlier, and consider what dysfunction might look like. In looking at this chart, keep in mind that there are only a few examples of what dysfunction might look like.



Possible Signs or Symptoms of Dysfunction


Identify goal or set goal.

Acts as if "future-blind" (Barkley, 2002), i.e. not working towards the future.


Develop steps towards goal, identify materials needed, set completion date.

- May start project without necessary materials
- May not leave enough time to complete
- May not make plans for the weekend with peers


Arrange (and enact) steps in proper order spatially or temporally.

- May skip steps in multi-step task
- May have difficulty relating story chronologically
- May "jump the gun" socially


Establish ranking of needs or tasks.

- May waste time doing small project and fail to do big project
- May have difficulty identifying what material to record in note-taking


Obtain and maintain necessary materials and aids to completing sequence and achieving goal.

- May lose important papers or possessions
- May fail to turn in completed work
- May create unrealistic schedule


Begin or start task.

Difficulty getting started on tasks may appear as oppositional behavior


Stop oneself from responding to distractors. Delay gratification in service of more important, long-term goal.

- May appear distractible and/or impulsive
- May pick smaller, immediate reward over larger, delayed reward


Establish and adjust work or production rate so that goal is met by specified completion time or date.

May run out of time


Move from one task to another smoothly and quickly. Respond to feedback by adjusting plan or steps.

May have difficulty making transitions and/or coping with unforeseen events


Assessing one's performance and progress towards goal.

- Doesn’t check to insure that each step is completed
- Doesn’t monitor pace to determine if goal will be met on time,
- Doesn’t check work before submitting it

Emotional Control

Regulating and modulating responses to situations.

May exhibit inappropriate or over-reactive response to situations


Reaching the self-set or other-set goal.

May start tasks but not finish them

In other articles in this section of the web site, you can find helpful tips and strategies for addressing some of the deficits identified in the chart above.

With greater understanding, comes greater responsibility (and patience).

2 Responses to "Well, that explains ALOT..."

Bonnie Arnwine (visit their site)

I went to an interesting talk about executive function and pragmatic language. I walked away thinking ugh another thing to work on... But like you said, information provides help as well as a responsibility to help...

mcewen (visit their site)

Indeed it does, but we mislaid our executive function somewhere during the summer holidays - better go and dust it off.
wishes best