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Jun 07 2011

Executive Function: I hate this CEO

Gentle readers, if you happen to have a 10 year old child who does not suffer from executive function issues, count yourself extremely lucky. Go buy a damned lottery ticket. I envy you in a way that is not healthy, not polite, and is likely breaking at least one commandment. I have finally decided that executive function is the bane of the household, and if this one thing could be resolved, perhaps we’d all breathe easier.

So, Jen, enlighten us. What is executive function? The best description I’ve found is on LDOnline. It’s basically the CEO of the brain. It manages planning, organization, learning from your experiences/mistakes, inhibition of impulses, stopping to choose an appropriate response…basically everything that is missing in my particular 2e son.

One guess how well this goes over with that boy’s mother. When people have to use one word to describe me, it’s usually organized. The Container Store is heaven for me, and get out of my way if you’re between me and my labeler. So just imagine what it’s like around the House of Chaos most days.

Now imagine a house on the market and the mom over-the-edge-insane with keeping an immaculate house for showings.

Now imagine the dad gone for nearly 4 months, working in a different state (hand to GOD I don’t know how I’m doing this).

Now imagine it’s summer freaking vacation, there is no schedule, there is NOTHING planned (because we were supposed to be in IL by now), just imagine what it’s like around here.

Instead of this:

Happy Dog

We have this:

Sad Dog

A certain son who shall not be named but is easily guessed took our sweet Rosie on a walk. He took her on the playground equipment. He yanked on her leash. And ripped two toenails off her back paw. All because of no internal recognition of cause and effect. All Ready-Fire-Aim. Hell, forget even the “ready.”

THAT is what is has been like around here. The entire situation is best described by my dog wearing the Cone of Shame.

Cone of Shame

There have been more and more incidents of the brain’s CEO out to lunch, and a three martini lunch at that. How do you train an immature, growing, asynchronous twice-exceptional brain in executive function before the mother of the brain’s owner goes off the deep end? We’re staring down the barrel of puberty here, and JesusRollerbladingChrist I can’t deal with hormones on top of a drunk CEO in the brain.

I own two highly-recommended books on executive function. I’ve owned them for a long time. And, like fully one-third of the rest of my household, they are currently in storage. I’m sure Smart but Scattered would help immensely around here, as well as Late, Lost, and Unprepared.

I’m at a loss. Something has to give. The boy is on the verge of getting out of control…and yet, not. He and his brother have been in detailed imaginative play all afternoon. It’s possible the problem lies mostly with me, but…he interrupts. He’s bossy. He’s often disrespectful. It takes more energy to get him to do chores than to do them myself. He doesn’t think. He…eh, I could go on and on, but what’s the point of that?

If you have executive function success stories, or advice for me (provided you actually live this), I’m all ears.

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  1. Brainhugger

    Uhhhh, no Executive Function success story here… Anybody? Bueller?

    But I can relate x 1 million!

    Detailed imaginative play could keep my 11-year old daughter occupied all day. It’s just when you actually want her to ‘do’ something that trouble starts.

    Her younger sister ends up doing all the chores because she can complete 10 tasks in the time it takes to get ol’ Executive Dysfunction to look up from her latest creative ‘project’and proceed to freak out because I asked her to do something.

    Then, if I don’t stand there and make sure she does what I asked her to do, she’ll have forgotten it by the time I leave the room. The effort it takes to get her to initiate and complete a task is exhausting. I’m with ya, sister. But I don’t have any helpful advice, besides maybe, running away from home? 🙂

    1. HeatherS

      I can totally relate to the task completion problems. My 7-year-old regularly forgets to do the things we ask him within the 15 foot walk between the living room and his bedroom. A typical result of asking him to put his pajamas on is that he will remove his clothes, play with some Legos, then put the clothes he just removed back on. Sheesh.

  2. melissaz

    Well, you know I live it. And it actually has gotten a little better with the hormones, believe it or not. Or, more accurately, he’s mature enough to realize that his total lack of EF is holding him back from ultimate awesomeness and is finally wanting to work on these things.

    The only advice I have at this point is patience. It is hard, oh my goodness gracious me is it hard, but you need to have it. And it will all come correct. Not without tears mind you, but it will happen.

    Fourth and fifth grade were the absolute worst years for us. It started to get better at the end of fifth, and by the second half of sixth, it really turned around. Hang in there.
    melissaz recently posted…A question-My Profile

  3. Fiona

    I feel your frustration. I’ll go you one better – imagine being a 2e parent like that with a 2e kid. Some days I go to work for the sheer serenity and feeling of control it gives me. Mostly you’re meant to work to live but sometimes I feel like I live to work – merely because it is a simpler environment to operate in. Coping with my ADD with her ADD is just too much some days. So hang in there; as Fleetwood Mac would say ‘don’t stop thinking about tomorrow’. That’s what keeps me sane!

  4. Jen M

    I have a 9 yr 10 mo old son. Like most of our challenging boys, mine sounds similar to yours yet full of variations on that theme. Example: “Why is the backdoor open?” So the dog could go in and out whenever he wanted. “When?! did you open the door?” *blank stare* “Was it right after we left or like a minute ago.” Right after you left. —> That was 2 1/2 hrs ago. WHY!?

    I just want to scream: who on earth ever claimed you were brilliant?

    Then there was making a u-turn on his bike in the middle of the street in front of a school bus. HOW many times did we practice the path to school (and bike rules)?

    My silver lining is only that it seems to take 6 mo for him to understand why said action is incorrect and another 6 mo before he doesn’t seem to repeat it. Of course, until he’s stressed and regresses.

    No answers or solutions just tons of empathy (We moved a year ago…though it was only 300 miles – hubby was much closer.)

  5. Jamie

    OH sweet mother love. I live it EVERY.SINGLE.MINUTE. And, I got nothing. But I read once that some of the most powerful words from one human to another are the words, “me too.” So I’m hoping this helps at least a little.
    Jamie recently posted…Aspergers at my HouseMy Profile

  6. trish

    I think I once dated the adult version of your son. And since I rival you in my love of organization and planning, you can probably guess how well that went. 🙂

  7. HeatherS

    So THAT’S what it’s called! Yes, we have executive function problems at our house, too. A typical conversation goes something like this:
    “Please stop meowing. We don’t like it.”
    “Meow. Meow.” (angry meow)

    My only, and probably hated, advice is to take as much time for yourself doing something you enjoy as much as possible so that you have the patience to deal with these situations. Even if it’s putting the kids to bed early, every little bit helps.

  8. Erica

    Logically, my eldest DD (8) should be better with the baby and with our new kittens than my middle DD (5). That’s not the case. I have even demonstrated to her how uncomfortable it is to have someone shove a stuffed animal in her face and shake it around. She seems to understand, for the moment, than a week later is back to doing it again.

    And the kittens – DD is so sweet and caring, and for the most part mature for her age, but she will try to strangle or squish the kittens for scratching or biting her. I tell her they are kittens and are doing what kittens do, and to just put them down if they get too rambunctious. And I tell her. And I tell her…

    Is that Executive Function? I’m a chapter or two into Smart But Scattered. So far, DD is my carbon copy, poor thing!

  9. My Kids Mom

    This is so interesting for me. I didn’t start reading this blog because I had a 2e child, but it is starting to feel like you’re all diagnosing my challenging 7yo. We’ve tried so many things- OT, psychologists… and yet reading blogs is doing the most.

    I used to stop Bug in every large parking lot to discuss What To Do When Lost. (1) stay put (2) call my given name LOUDLY (3)ask a mom for help. What did he do (every friggin time)? He’d hide so no one would see him cry. Picture this at Busch Gardens…. I’ve wondered if I’ll survive his childhood.
    My Kids Mom recently posted…nothingMy Profile

  10. Missy | The Literal Mom

    When did school get out? I’m telling you, girl, the transition from school to summer and vice versa is KILLER. I think the executive function issues can be greatly exacerbated during this time. It’s like they LOSE THEIR MINDS.

    How does he respond to my favorite word – INCENTIVE? (also known as threats) My executive functionally challenged friend responds *pretty* well to that, but sometimes it’s like she’s heard nothing too, you know?

    Anyway, good luck. Keep us posted.
    Missy | The Literal Mom recently posted…Bedtime Routines and Mean ThingsMy Profile

  11. Andrea

    My wonderful Executive Function- challenged son is now 21. What a ride this has been. I’m exhausted and the everyday issues and anxieties continue. I think the transition to life in “the real world” since high school graduation has been the most exasperating and tiring. He’s working full time as an apprentice Welder after completing training and certification at one of the best union teaching programs and I am overjoyed at the results of his hard work but he did it kicking and screaming and complaining all the way. I have tried to do nothing but give him consistent love, nourishment and shelter – safe haven- so he always has home to regroup. He’s come to try to be cool and reserved at work with his peers but then acts out at home and dear old Mom is the target. He’s very immature but making progress. Not unlike most young men. But EF issues are different and sometimes difficult to put into words. I appreciate all of the comments here and can relate. These kids are awesome and it unnerves my gut to think what the world must be like for them. Difficult to navigate for most, how must it be for them?

    1. Jen

      I’m sure it’s terrifying and exhausting for them as well. I just keep hoping that age brings maturity and that I have the strength to keep on keeping on. 🙂

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