Executive Functioning

I’ve always had really, really poor executive functioning.

My editorial clients don’t realise because I always get their work done by the deadline and (like most autistics) I’m really conscientious. So it looks like I have excellent time management skills and organisational skills.

But I don’t. It’s an illusion I can maintain so I can have a job. That and years of experience of working as a publishing freelancer.

Transfer me to another environment and the wheels fall off.

When I tried secondary school teaching I couldn’t keep on top of the lesson planning. What lessons I did try to teach didn’t work because my timings were always wrong and I hadn’t worked out how best to organise students doing practical work. (I still don’t know.) And while it was bad at work, it was even worse at home. I could no longer remember to pay my credit card bill on time. My husband had to take on all of the household jobs I normally did. All of them! And I went back to being 13 again. It was awful. And I wasn’t even trying to teach a full courseload. There was no way I was going to be able to cut it as a school teacher without having a nervous breakdown. I simply didn’t have enough executive functioning to cope with the demands of the job.

Autistic people don’t tend to have good executive functioning.

At school I was always the slowest in the school during cookery class. I would follow each step in the recipe rigidly. Never once realising that the other (neurotypical) members of my class were not being so literal and were multi-tasking. I hated cookery, the teacher would always laugh me in front of the rest of the class (with hindsight it felt like bullying). I didn’t like her much either. (Sorry, I digress again…)

And it’s not just me.

My daughter cannot keep her room tidy. It’s so bad I won’t even go in there. I’m not joking, it’s usually literally knee-deep with who knows what. I have no idea how she’s going to cope at university. I wish she didn’t want to go. Just thinking about her having to cope with all that terrifies me. I fear that no one’s going to want to share with her. I’m afraid she’s going to end up lonely and alone, just like me.

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