3 Symptoms of Executive Dysfunction – And How Not Recognizing Them Might Result in Ableism

I’ve been trying to write this article for weeks.

Every time I think about writing it, I’m frozen. And the more time that elapses, the harder it is for me to get started.

In fact, just the act of opening up my word processor took about as much energy as I imagine it takes to lift a car above your head, move a pile of bricks with your mind, or make a billion dollars over night.

And this doesn’t just apply to this one article. Most of the time, this inability to act expands to everyday tasks. Cleaning the dishes, making the bed – hell, getting out of bed can be just as difficult.

This is nothing new in my life.

Throughout my academic career, I’d constantly leave things at school that needed to be brought home, forget that certain assignments were due, and would leave everything to the last minute.

This was so bad that almost every night, my mother would have to drive me back to school just to pick up all of the things I had left in my desk.

Many folks see this behavior and are quick to label it laziness.

However, this process wasn’t a way to escape my responsibilities or shirk off school work, but the result of a brain incapable of the necessary planning and self-motivation it took to get things done in a timely fashion.


This is definitely a problem for me. Especially with regards to organising and planning. I really struggle with multi step tasks and tend to back away from things because they seem too overwhelming. This can affect things like keeping my flat clean and tidy. A while back via the schizophrenia.com web site I did a cognitive assessment. I scored average or above on all categories but executive functioning. On that category I scored 1.5-2 standard deviations below average. It does very much seem to be something those with developmental/learning difficulties can struggle with. The problem is getting those things recognised especially if you went through your childhood/teens before there was much recognition of such problems. In my experience you are more likely to be seen as awkward,passive-aggressive and subversive than you are to get help and support for it especially if you are well into adulthood


Thanks for sharing this. I felt it really described a lot of things well. Like how I always stick to the same route when I go somewhere, how it takes so much berating myself and sitting still doing nothing before I can find the motivation to get up and do the dishes. And then I get tired not from actually doing the dishes but from planning what to clean when and where to put what to dry and so on. Planning is a huge issue for me. It takes so much effort and sheer willpower for me to make plans and follow them. When I plan my day, which I try to do but find very difficult sometimes, I get so tired from thinking about the steps and how to manage the time that I feel I have to sit still and do nothing for a while to recover. And getting out of bed is also a huge issue for me. I sleep a lot more than I should because it takes a lot of motivation to get out of bed in the morning.

I really hope I can make people close to me understand how difficult this is for me and that I’m not lazy. Because I’m really not lazy. I don’t avoid doing things that need to get done, it just takes me longer to get around to actually doing them.