Understanding Executive Dysfunction

This blog is written by a woman with executive functioning issues. Many of the solutions are geared towards people with similar issues, but everyone is welcome to utilize this blog.

Many people don’t understand what executive dysfunction is or what it entails, which has likely contributed to the stigma around ADD/ADHD.

In order to understand what executive dysfunction is, we have to take a step back and understand what it looks like when executive functions work properly.

In a normal “neurotypical” brain, there’s certain protocols for handling various processes. They cover organization and planning, self-regulation, and other various areas. These are the executive functions.

When the executive functions are doing their job, you don’t notice them. You go about your day, planning and implementing said plans, conducting routines that are second nature, and handling step-by-step instructions with ease.

People with executive dysfunction have issues with several or all of the executive functions in a way that at least moderately impacts their life. It’s the result of faulty wiring in the brain, so to speak.

This handy-dandy infographic from Understood.org can help you understand them far better than I can write them.


This infographic is property of Understood.org. It isn’t mine.

I think the only three of these I personally am not catastrophically bad with are flexible thinking, impulse control, and emotional control.

I have a very strong suspicion that executive dysfunction also extends to physical health, but I have not seen a confirmation on this. I know that, prior to my diagnosis and start on stimulant medication, my physical health was far worse. I have seen similar reports from various individuals diagnosed late with ADD/ADHD and EFD, but I acknowledge that anecdotes are not necessarily evidence.