Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Executive Functioning Blues

Today, as on many days, there is too much to do.

I put the items into a list. I categorize the list: Work Stuff (my job), Other Work Stuff (things I have promised to do that are also work, but I don’t necessarily get paid for them), Home Stuff (chores and bills), and Phone. Phone goes at the top of the list, then the bottom. Get it over with? Put it off until I forget or find it doesn’t matter anymore? Or just move it around? Phone goes to second on the list. There are a number of items under Phone and this is a problem. If I get to the first item under Phone today, I’ll consider it a victory. I realize that one of the Phone calls will be of an automated nature. I make that one right away, but it doesn’t count. I highlight it anyway, but I know better. I toy with the idea of sorting the rest of Phone into the three other categories, according to what the call is about. No, Phone deserves its own place in the Purgatory of the list, third place out of four.

Not that the order makes the slightest bit of difference. Within categories it may, but then I may just pick the quickest item so I have the opportunity to use the highlighting tool at least twice today. I start with one of the two spreadsheets under Other Work, this is due first. Completing it will necessitate phone calls. I can’t put them under Phone, they have to stay here. I grab the house phone from the kitchen counter and put it on the desk so it will be here when I’m ready. I notice in my browser tab that I have mail. I’ll just take a glance. This looks important, an email sent to my entire workplace!

Uh-oh. This is not good. A local autism society is requesting that my workplace participate in some sort of autism walk. There is a puzzle piece on the page. There is a breezy suggestion about who should head up the efforts, and the person named is a friend of mine. I check the autism society’s website to see how they have described the event. Although it has been publicized as a Missing Piece March, it seems that it will be more of a festival, with games for kids and information booths. I click through the site, and find no mentions of devastating diseases or burdens on society. Hmmm…the event itself is described as a place where autistic kids can be themselves without being judged. Barely a mention of the existence of adults, and of course no questioning of why autistics can’t be themselves everywhere, but I’ve certainly seen worse. On to the links page.

This is where I find problems. Big problems. Judge Rotenberg Center is listed as a “resource.” I start composing an email to my coworkers asking them not to support this organization's event. But then I start thinking that I should really be writing the autism society instead. Coworker email goes into drafts folder. While I am writing the autism society contact, I start to think that maybe I should ask for a booth at the event to promote…okay, let’s say in their language…awareness…of issues adults on the spectrum face. I know that this means things like being tasered for sitting alone outside a bar, being excluded from jobs, facing all sorts of discrimination and harassment, etc., but maybe the way I am asking sounds less threatening. Is that honest? Is it honest enough? I don’t know so I add a line about neurodiversity. But what will this person have heard about the word, so I add a definition: "Neurodiversity is part of the general idea that human beings should have human rights."

What am I thinking? A hot summer day spent in a field with noisy kids and exasperated adults to pass out brochures and display posters that will possibly just make people angry? More emails are arriving, possibly coworkers asking about the event. What do I think? Is this bad? Is it like Autism Speaks? and I don’t yet know how to tell them and I still haven’t sent the first email saying let’s not do this thing and no I do not want to stand in the hot field all day to be vilified but should I? Should I? Another mail goes into the drafts folder and the spreadsheet is still waiting and it is noon here already and everyone knows I don't work as well after lunch, but Look! I have practically written a blog post which now needs editing and I might as well post it, since I will soon be too tired and frustrated to bother.
One thing has to be done for sure. I write the autism society and explain why the link to JRC needs to be removed.
The phone goes back to its base. Maybe tomorrow…


  1. I find those days so frustrating! When you're all prepared to be organized and get as much work as you can done, and then something comes and sidetracks you. Even when it's important and you know it's important, it's still a frustrating distraction.

    I hope you have a better day and I hope the right course of action for this event becomes clear.

  2. Thank you, Stephanie. I have been having some pretty significant problems focusing and balancing responsibilities even without such distractions (which of course happen daily.)

    I did hear back from the person I wrote at the autism society, and she agreed that the link needs to be removed. I am waiting for the person in charge to follow through on this; they will be hearing from me again if that doesn't happen.

  3. The person in charge probably has their own distractions. Not that that justifies the link having been put there in the first place.

  4. For the past year and a half, we have tried to get our son's school to concentrate more time on his problems with executive function. More time assisting him in finding ways he can gain more skill, and more time spent by them doing the things that there's just no way he can do at this point.

    Good job on getting the JRC link taken off, and thanks for the blog link.


  5. Hi Joe,
    Thank you for your stories on the recent events in Georgia. I saw on your latest post that they've done it again. I wish I were more surprised...

    Re: the executive functioning problems, they come and go for me, along with other types of abilities. I can do well for months at a time and then hit a rough patch lasting any amount of time. Of course this looks to most people like "not wanting" to do things, and I can hardly blame them. Today is better than yesterday, and I'm hoping this is the start of an upward trend.

  6. Sanabituranima,

    Squawk! That's right.

    The link has been removed.

    Now if something could just be done about those "missing pieces..."

  7. I'm still not quite comfortable with the "executive functioning" label, but don't really have a better one. Whatever it's called, it's been a struggle for me lately too. When my health deteriorates, then all those coping mechanisms seem to slip away.

    I'm glad you had a better day!

  8. I love your blog! You can follow mine also if you like.


  9. They probably just Googled autism and got the JRC to come up.

  10. I find it shocking that the Judge Rothenberg center was listed as a resource. Absolutely shockin.. Ah! No! Stop! Quit it! Agggghhhh!

  11. http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/shock-therapy-massachussetts-school/story?id=11047334

  12. It is the end of August...where are you Bev? Are you OK?

  13. Hi, I just found your blog, and I just wanted to tell you that I think it's awesome.

    That is all.

  14. I assume that this blog is now closed. I would just like to thank you for every post on it.

  15. I have a lot of those days.

    In fact, pretty much, every day is like that.

    I didn't know there was a name for it. "Executive Functioning"... sounds like an important position in a company. I've always wanted to have something "Executive" about me.

    I like your blog.



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