Understanding Autism Part 1: Executive Function Theory

The two main concepts related to understanding Autism are Executive Function and Theory of Mind. This post will focus on executive function which includes the cognitive tasks related to planning, focus, organizing, error correction, recognizing danger, and impulse control.

It can be difficult to separate behavioral and functional issues related to Autism Spectrum Disorder from those that are a normative developmental task. In pre-adolescence and adolescence, changes to the brain's prefrontal-regions of the frontal lobe are maturation in the functioning of goal directed behavior and working memory, but these skills develop at different rates for each individual.

The Parent’s Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism makes several practical suggestions to address challenges in the area of Executive Functioning:

  • Use a weekly homework log for communication between home and school.
  • Try an assignment checklists can be used to break large, often overwhelming tasks into manageable unites.
  • Day planners.
  • A visual classroom schedule, easily accesible.
  • Special time allowances.
  • Preferential desk placement near teacher and away from distractions

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Suggested Reading: A Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism