executive dysfunction

Electronic books can make reading possible for people with executive dysfunction

Electronic books can be an important disability accommodation for a lot of people, including some people with normal vision. If you’re having a lot of trouble reading, or not reading as much as you’d like to, it might help to use electronic books.

There are a lot of steps involved in reading a print book. Some of these steps can be difficult or impossible for people with impaired executive function, autistic inertia, fatigue, chronic pain, or other conditions. Some difficult steps can be eliminated with electronic books. 

In order to start reading a print book, you have to be able to do all of these things:

  • Have the book in a place where it’s available to you when you have time to read.
  • (Which can involve remembering to bring with you somewhere.)
  • (And keeping track of the book and not losing it.)
  • Decide to stop what you’re doing and do a different kind of task.
  • Figure out where the book is.
  • Go get the book.
  • Avoid getting distracted by other things as you find the book or get the book.
  • Figure out where you are in the book.
  • (Which can involve things like remembering the place.) 
  • (Or using a bookmark, which comes with its own multi-step challenges like remembering that bookmarks exist and having one available.)
  • Open the book to the right page.
  • Avoid getting distracted by other parts of the book.
  • Get into a position in which you can read, which you can also sustain long enough to read for a significant among of time.
  • Actually start reading the book.
  • If you want to take notes or highlight, you also have to gather all your note-taking tools.
  • And not get distracted and forget what you’re doing.
  • And not forget where you put the book in the process.
  • That’s a lot of steps, any one of which can sometimes be difficult or impossible.
  • Using electronic copies can eliminate some of these steps, or make them easier.
  • This can be game-changing.

Some ways in which electronic copies can eliminate steps:

  • You can store your entire electronic library on one device (or synced to multiple devices). 
  • If you know where your device is, then you know where all of your electronic books are.
  • This can mean you don’t have to physically search for anything.
  • (Electronically searching to remember where you put something can be much easier.)
  • You also don’t have to remember to bring a specific book. You just have to remember to bring one device.
  • (Which can be a device like your laptop, phone, or iPad which you’re in the habit of carrying with you anyway).
  • If you’re already using your computer, you don’t have to get up to go get your book.
  • You also don’t have to change positions.
  • Being able to stay in the same position and location can make it much easier to start reading.
  • It can also be easier to remember your place. A lot of software will leave the book open to the same place as when you were last reading it.
  • Searching can be easier, faster, and less distracting than flipping through a print book. (This isn’t true for everyone, but it’s true for some people).
  • Electronic bookmarks may also be easier to use than physical ones.
  • You don’t have to look for highlighters, pens, pencils or notebooks, all of that is right there in the book-reading software.
  • Eliminating these steps can make reading a lot easier. 
  • Making it easier can make it possible.

This isn’t the right strategy for everyone; computers, phones and other devices have their own executive dysfunction pitfalls. But for some people, it makes reading much more possible. 

Tl;dr Some people have trouble reading print books, even if they have normal vision. Sometimes the reason for this is that executive dysfunction (or another disability) makes some of the steps involved in starting to read a print book difficult or impossible. (Eg: people with ADHD might get distracted looking for the book.) For some people, using electronic books instead of print books can make reading much more possible. Scroll up for some specific reasons that electronic books can help.

Executive dysfunction and teachers

we-aint-borntypical asked: Sorry if this is late, but how do I tell my teachers about my executive dysfunction and how it affects my ability to do assignments?

realsocialskills said:

I think the most important thing you can do is accept that the problem is real, and that it’s ok to need help.

It can be hard to accept that executive dysfunction is real. It can be very tempting to feel like if we just try harder or wait long enough, it will somehow work out. And some percentage of the time that does work — which can make it seems like it will *always* work if we try hard enough. But it doesn’t work that way, and expecting it to causes a lot of problems.

Executive dysfunction means that sometimes there are insurmountable barriers to doing things completely independently. Sometimes this can happen with things that our culture says are easy and that you may not have heard of anyone having trouble with. It can be hard to come to terms with that. It gets easier with practice.

More directly about managing relationships with teachers, I’ve found two things helpful: I try to err heavily on the side of asking for help as soon as I’m feeling stuck, and I also try to select instructors based on understanding and/or cognitive compatibility.

If you’re facing an assignment and can’t figure out how to make progress on it, it’s good to err on the side of asking for help immediately. This can be hard to do, especially if you feel ashamed or like you don’t have a good reason. It’s actually ok though, and it gets easier with practice.

It’s normal to need help sometimes, even if the reasons you need it are unusual. All teachers have students who need help. Good teachers understand this and consider needing help normal. (Not all teachers are good, but many are). A lot of teachers care about helping their students, and it’s usually a lot easier for them to do that if you ask sooner rather than later. (It also saves you the time you’d waste trying to do something impossible through sheer force of will.)

If you can, it helps to explain in concrete terms what you are having trouble with, and what you think would help. (If you don’t know what would help, the concrete request might be “Can we meet to talk about this assignment?”). I think that it usually helps to err on the side of talking about concrete problems rather than abstract concepts like executive dysfunction.

For instance, I think “I’m having trouble getting started on this assignment. Could you help me narrow down my topic?” is usually more effective than “Executive dysfunction makes this assignment hard for me, what should I do?”. That said, if the latter is the only way you can ask for help in a particular situation, don’t wait until you know a better way. It’s ok to ask for help imperfectly; it’s ok to need help even if you’re not sure what help you need.

Not all teachers will be good at helping you. Some won’t be willing, some some won’t know how. Some will be inconsistent. But a good percentage of teachers *are* skilled at helping. If you have a choice about who your teachers are, it’s good to err on the side of picking teachers who are good at helping.

Also, some teachers are going to be inherently more cognitively compatible with you than others. Different teachers do instruction and assessment differently. If you have a choice, it can be good to err on the side of taking classes with teachers who give assignments that are more reliably possible for you.

Aside from attributes of teachers — asking for help effectively is a set of skills. One of those skills is the emotional skill of feeling ok about the fact that you need help. Another is assessing what’s going on and figuring out what your needs are. Another is expressing it to teachers in a way that they can understand and act on readily. And there are other skills I’m not sure how to explain. No one is born knowing how to do these things, and they all get easier with practice.

tl;dr Executive dysfunction makes school complicated. Taking classes with teachers who teach in a way that makes cognitive sense to you can help, when you have a choice. It can be hard to ask for help, and hard to feel ok about needing help. That’s a set of skills, and it gets a lot easier with practice.

shower prompts

jack-not-jacque:

vladdraculea:

realsocialskills:

Anonymous said to realsocialskills:


Do you or your followers have any advice for focusing in the shower? Or for a good blog to ask this question? My mental illness makes it hard, so a 10 min shower sometimes takes me more like 40 min. Then I feel exhausted afterward. I’ve found lots of techniques to focus in other situations, but for some reason the internet seems to have no advice on this. It’s hard to use post-it notes or affordable electronics in a wet space.

realsocialskills said:

If notes or visual symbols work for you, there are options for using them in a shower. hygiene

If it’s your shower, the right way to do it might be to write the steps on the shower wall. You can do this with a bath crayon. (It’s also possible to wash off the bath crayon after, but it might not be a good idea to count on being able to do that without getting distracted.)

You could also write instructions on a shower curtain.

You could also try bath stickers. Baths stickers are these plastic things for kids that stick the walls while they’re wet. You could look around for what kinds there are, and see if there are some that might work as prompts.

You can also make a laminated note sheet that tells you the steps. Which you could hold in your hand attach to the wall with a suction cup. You can make your own and laminate it. (There are also a lot of activities of daily living sheets on Pintrest; but they’re mostly created by parents and therapists and may or may not meet your needs). Stores like Office Depot and copy shops usually have laminators. You can also use a page protector and tape. That doesn’t work as well.

If you use timers to help you notice the passage of time, an hourglass sand timer might be a good solution. There are some with suction cups, so you could get one of those and put it at eye level in a place where you will notice it.

In terms of higher tech solutions, there are also shower lights you can install that change color over time.

You also might try audio prompts. If you have a way of making your phone loud enough to hear in the shower, you could try recording yourself describing the showering process then following your instructions. You could also try putting on a song that you know has a specific length in order to help yourself keep track of time.

Anyone else want to weigh in? What have you found helps you keep focused in the shower?

vladdraculea said:

Awesome advice!!! I don’t have any, but I’ll be taking some of yours — especially the laminated card idea. I think I can design one that’ll work well for my particular needs.

jack-not-jacque said:

The sand timer sounds like a great idea. I’ve used egg timers sitting on the counter as an audio prompt, but that’s not great since there’s only one alarm so no “warning” sound, and it’s hard to remember to check how much time I have left if it’s outside the shower. I’ve also got a water-resistant clock hanging from the shower head. It doesn’t ring or anything, but I can use it to judge how long I’ve been in the shower, or how close I’m getting to a time when I need to get out.

Shower prompts?

Anonymous asked:

Do you or your followers have any advice for focusing in the shower? Or for a good blog to ask this question? My mental illness makes it hard, so a 10 min shower sometimes takes me more like 40 min. Then I feel exhausted afterward. I’ve found lots of techniques to focus in other situations, but for some reason the internet seems to have no advice on this. It’s hard to use post-it notes or affordable electronics in a wet space.

realsocialskills said:

If notes or visual symbols work for you, there are options for using them in a shower. hygiene 

If it’s your shower, the right way to do it might be to write the steps on the shower wall. You can do this with a bath crayon. (It’s also possible to wash off the bath crayon after, but it might not be a good idea to count on being able to do that without getting distracted.)

You could also write instructions on a shower curtain.

You could also try bath stickers. Baths stickers are these plastic things for kids that stick the walls while they’re wet. You could look around for what kinds there are, and see if there are some that might work as prompts. 

You can also make a laminated note sheet that tells you the steps. Which you could hold in your hand attach to the wall with a suction cup. You can make your own and laminate it. (There are also a lot of activities of daily living sheets on Pintrest; but they’re mostly created by parents and therapists and may or may not meet your needs). Stores like Office Depot and copy shops usually have laminators. You can also use a page protector and tape. That doesn’t work as well. 

If you use timers to help you notice the passage of time, an hourglass sand timer might be a good solution. There are some with suction cups, so you could get one of those and put it at eye level in a place where you will notice it.

In terms of higher tech solutions, there are also shower lights you can install that change color over time. 

You also might try audio prompts. If you have a way of making your phone loud enough to hear in the shower, you could try recording yourself describing the showering process then following your instructions. You could also try putting on a song that you know has a specific length in order to help yourself keep track of time.

Anyone else want to weigh in? What have you found helps you keep focused in the shower?

More on how to eat when food is too hard

katalogofchaos:

When food is too hard

dyzzyah:

luxuryofconviction:

bramblepatch:

ktempest:

feministbatwoman:

realsocialskills:

Content warning: This post is my reply to someone who reblogged calling some of my low-spoons food strategies lazy and unhealthy. Some of y’all might be better off…

katalogofchaos said:

I’d like to add some tips which are helpful for my partner (and me) when he is struggling.  

In addition to getting the motivation to make food, he can get overwhelmed by the decision of what to make. There was a suggestion above to have a friend text you with a reminder to eat, but taking it a step further and having them tell you what to eat can be useful too.  I sometimes leave notes “chicken in tupperware” or he will text me “I’m hungry” and I reply with something like “there is peanut butter and honey on the counter and bread on the table, make a sandwich.” If I can take the burden of that choice away, that increases his chances of eating. 

Ordering pizza or take out is a great way to avoid the stress of preparing food, but it can sometimes mean even more choices than eating at home. One solution is to have a go-to order. At some point pick a pizza place, pick a pizza and toppings and save that as your default pizza.  If you pay with a card save your card information in the system.  In the future, ordering a pizza is reduced to one decision and one click. 

He also finds it helpful to have a generic/default order when we go out. He gets a bacon cheese burger with fries at any restaurant that has it, because then when he’s sitting at a table with 4 people and a waiter standing over him, he doesn’t need to make that choice.  

When he is feeling more stable, it also helps for him to cook for us instead of just him.  I still pick a meal, and make sure he has a recipe, but if he is cooking for me, he will follow through and cook the meal, and then there is something for him to eat as well. Strategies for living with a partner struggling with anxiety/depression is another post, but him cooking meals also helps to balance the support/supported roles in our relationship in a way that helps us both feel better. It helps him feel useful and that he is contributing, and it helps me feel cared for. 

Hi Im a low-income vegan with executive function problems so I thought Id try to list some foods that help me get by when Im having trouble with meals.

Oatmeal can be super helpful. It keeps you full for a while, is easy to make (heat water, add it to oatmeal, bam done) and you can throw some fruits and nuts in there too. I personally hate the texture of oatmeal, so I use bulgur wheat instead which is really similar. Im sure you can find some other alternatives pretty easily if you google it.

Frozen vegetables are super cheap (1-2$ a bag) and you can cook them on the stove in around 5 minutes usually. If you can afford it, fresh vegetables are great because you can just eat them raw.

Kale is also cheap, usually a dollar for a big bunch of it, and you can just snack on it raw. If you dont like the taste, put some olive oil and salt on them and pop them in the oven for a few minutes.

Potatoes- cheap and filling. It does take them a long time to cook, but its a simple process. just poke some holes, rub some vegetable oil on them, and stick them in the oven. takes about an hour, just dont forget to set a timer or something! (you can also microwave them in about 5 minutes. not as tasty and you lose some nutrition, but its so much easier)

Trail mix- not much else to say about this. cheap, tons of nutrients, delicious, and you dont have to prepare anything. (you could also make your own)

Also:


When I have extra cash I try to stock up on fresh fruits and veggies, theyre a pretty important part of your diet and you can just keep them nearby to eat raw whenever you dont have the energy to cook.

For times that you do have the energy to cook things, make double the amount so you can have leftovers that you can quickly reheat later. Rice and beans are a good choice because combined, they make a complete protein, plus they are super cheap.

Check to see if your grocery store has a reduced produce section. You can get slightly bruised/old fruit for about half the price. Some places have reduced grocery too, and they mark things down really really cheap just because the box is a little dented etc.