I Can’t Help Myself (Well, I Could with a Little Practice)

One of the things that my husband Daniel has observed is how I tend to just do things rather impulsively.  He is correct, I do tend to just throw myself into things without planning.  The reason for my behavior is because I have a weak executive function, a result of Aspergers.

What is executive function, you say?  Well, I found this definition from the blog Musings of an Aspie:

Executive function is a broad term that refers to the cognitive processes that help us regulate,  control and manage our thoughts and actions. It includes planning, working memory, attention, problem solving, verbal reasoning, inhibition, cognitive flexibility, initiation of actions and monitoring of actions.

The blogger goes on to explain how this plays itself out in daily life:

If you have poor EF, people might mistake you for being disorganized, lazy, incompetent, sloppy, or just plain not very bright. Why? Because executive function encompasses so many essential areas of daily living. Nearly everything we do calls on areas of executive function. Cooking. Cleaning. Parenting. Work. School. Self-care.

I know that people around me see my poor EF and think I’m either incompetent, stupid or a bad egg.  I’ve been made more aware of this because of an action that took place a few days ago because of poor EF.  I don’t say this to excuse myself, but to put it in context.

Over the years, I’ve tried to keep my poor functioning in check.  I’ve learned to control my impulses to best of my abilities.

That said, because I have a poor EF, I will slip and do something stupid.  Not because I want to cause problems, but because I don’t have the safeguards that neurotypical persons do.

In my role as a pastor, I have to remember to be less impulsive.  It doesn’t look good for your spiritual leader to act like a 10 year old.  But again, even with all the training, my impulses can just take over.

But I also think there are good parts of my faulty executive function.  Sometimes my jumping in without looking means that I can take risks that might cause others to hold back.  Sometimes I’m at my most creative when I allow my impulses to take over.  The thing that is a thorn in my side is also the thing that can make me a good worker.

Another lesson in the good and bad that comes with Aspergers.


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