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Turn the Paige, a Blog devoted to the Unique Mind


ADHD & Executive Functioning - Part 1

Updated: Mar 27

Hello & welcome back to Turn the Paige! I am so happy to have you. This month we are going to begin tackling a big buzzword today, executive functions, and why they are connected to ADHD. I picked this topic because it can be quite confusing to understand and I want to clarify as much as possible.

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) is so tightly linked to executive functions because of how it affects the brain. Specifically the four circuits of the prefrontal cortex, the home of executive functioning skills.

The Four Circuits - ADHD Brain & it's Connection to Executive Functions

According to the King of ADHD, Dr. Russell Barkley

The what - Working memory is connected to the "What" Circuit, which is where thoughts begin to influence actions. This is especially true with regard to future plans, objectives, and goals.

The when- The brain's timing circuit known as the "When" Circuit is responsible for coordinating not only the flow and timing of behavior but also the promptness and timing of specific acts. It is when the "When" Circuit is lacking that we often see people with ADHD struggle with time management.

The why- This is the circuit that, when faced with a variety of possibilities, finally selects one based on our feelings toward the options as well as their motivational and emotional qualities. The reason it's called the "hot" circuit is that it's connected to our emotions; our thoughts influence our feelings and vice versa. In all of our plans, it makes the final decision.

The who - It is the center of self-awareness, the place where we become conscious of our actions, and our feelings, both inside and outside of ourselves and our surroundings.

I could have gotten more technical and explained the parts of the brain where specific executive functions originate, but I felt it was more important to elaborate on the symptoms behind it. Depending on which circuits are most impaired and least impaired, one can see variations in the kinds of symptoms that any individual could have. Some people have a working memory deficit, which could show as a processing delay. Some people struggle with self-regulation time management or organization. Or they may do really well with planning and priortization, and have difficulty elsewhere. Ultimately, what I'm trying to say, whatever executive function challenge someone is facing, it involves one of these four circuits.

We've covered the ADHD Brain and the challenges it faces with executive functions. Did you know there's actually a name for it? Yep, executive dysfunction.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, "Executive dysfunction is a behavioral symptom [or diagnosis] that disrupts a person’s ability to manage their own thoughts, emotions, and actions. It’s most common with certain mental health conditions, especially addictions, behavioral disorders, brain development disorders, and mood disorders."

I want to paint a picture in your heads of what executive dysfunction could really look like. I present executive dysfunction ~sensory addition~.

REMINDER: EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT and experiences different symptoms. You may identify with this. You may not.

See: You walk into your home and you have little piles all over the place. Specifically your work area, your counter, or your kitchen table. You see piles of paper, receipts, pieces of mail, things you meant to put somewhere but never got to it. You have every intention of doing something with it, but most of the time you end up either throwing it out or putting it somewhere out of site so it's less overwhelming to deal with.

Smell: You smell a burnt pizza in the oven because you swore you set the timer after you put the pizza in the oven. But- right as you were doing that you remembered that you needed to grab something from your bedroom and never made it back to the oven.

Taste: Specific textures could be bothersome to you. You may have cut out a whole food group altogether because of this. You may find it difficult to pick something to eat whether at home or at a restaurant.

Hear: You tend to write everything you hear while trying to focus. While in a meeting or lecture, you find yourself wanting to write down every last word. I can help you with that!

Touch/feel: You feel you could use a big all the time. Not because of the contact with another person, but because you crave deep pressure as it calms your brain and your body. Being wrapped up in a burrito would be a dream. However, you could definitely opt for a weighted blanket.

If you find yourself connecting to these, that's okay! It doesn't mean there's a problem that needs to be fixed. I'm simply giving examples of what executive dysfunction could look like in different scenarios.

Who connects to this? I personally connect with touch/feel. I absolutely LOVE my weighted blanket. I have one I use while lying down and another during work. It's made specifically for your lap!

That's it for now, folks!

Want to learn more? E-mail me @! Check back next month for Part 2!

58 views1 comment

1 Yorum

Nathan Herman
Nathan Herman
03 Kas 2023

What a great explanation of executive function and dysfunction. Especially as it applies to real life. Thank you so much Paige for this informative post. -NH

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