I have ADHD, and a symptom that impacts my life every day is executive dysfunction. Executive dysfunction is something that neurotypical people experience too, but it’s usually strongest and most visible in people with ADHD.
Understanding executive function is the best way to get a grasp of what executive dysfunction is. As defined by Harvard Center on the Developing Child, “Executive function and self-regulation skills are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully” (Harvard, 2020).
When looking at the DSM-5 criteria for diagnosing ADHD, it’s obvious that most people with ADHD lack the ability to do these things without outside help, which is where the term “executive dysfunction” comes in.
For me, executive dysfunction hinders my ability to manage my time, control my impulses, remember important upcoming events, and split my attention between multiple things. These effects have led me to miss deadlines, accidentally ditch my friends when we were supposed to hang out, and miss points from not realizing that I’ve left out key details in assignments.
Since I’m in high school, my executive dysfunction mostly affects my schoolwork and learning experience. For an adult with a job, it could cause them to get fired because of repetitive mistakes. The stakes are higher for adults, which is why learning effective strategies to combat executive dysfunction is important.
I hope that this article helps people understand ADHD and its symptoms better. Remember to look out for your friends or family who have ADHD to make sure they’re taking care of themselves.
“Executive Function & Self-Regulation.” Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 24 Mar. 2020, developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/executive-function/.