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Five common impacts of Executive Function Challenges on Neurodiverse Couples Part 1

By Robin Tate

After reading the title you may be saying "executive what!?", before we begin let’s get a definition to clear up any questions.

Webster’s defines Executive function (EF) as the group of complex mental processes and cognitive abilities (such as working memory, impulse inhibition, and reasoning) that control the skills (such as organizing tasks, remembering details, managing time, and solving problems) required for goal-directed behavior.

Challenges in these brain processes often exist in people who have Autistic, ADHD neurology as well as PTSD/CPTSD. These labels describe the clients that I work to serve as well as the root of many of their strengths and/or challenges.

On such a complex topic we won’t cover all that is needed to know about EF and couples relationships but I will do my best to give you the “gist”. In part ONE of this TWO part post I will share some foundational observations of Autistic/Non-Autistic Couples and Executive Function. In Part two we will delve into five common impacts. Here goes.

What you need to know about Executive Function and Autistic/Not-Autistic Couples:

-Helping professionals as well as the neurodivergent person and neurodiverse couples are frequently not aware that the core struggle exists in executive function. Basically, it’s invisible and like with most neurodivergent challenges, there lays the struggle to talk about it, you can’t see it.

-Weaknesses in executive function processes can cause foundational challenges that can "make or break" the course of someone’s life and the trajectory of a relationship.

-Healthy relationships require two healthy aware people. This is no different when we are talking about EF. When one person in a relationship has an invisible EF challenge it presents a struggle for the couple.

-No two people are the same in their EF skills and the way that they function. The degree and the frequency of the person or couple’s unique strengths and/or challenges in this area are individual and can only be truly brought into awareness by the person/couple.

-As the coach I am the expert on what executive function is and how a person/couple may be challenged, the client is the expert on them/themselves, as a team we work to build awareness and co-create strategies also known as accommodations.

-Acceptance and understanding of each person’s brain strengths and challenges is essential to building a healthy couple’s relationship. On the coaching journey couples often come to recognize that one person has stronger EF skills than the other. In this awareness they can build an effective team based on agreement and strength.

-Environment is everything. What may be a challenge in one context may not exist in another situation. When a couple is aware of each other’s strengths and challenges they can work toward an atmosphere and expectations that allow each person to live well. Sometimes this requires making changes or what’s called modifications.

It doesn’t end here…

In part ONE we laid the foundation of what you need to know about EF and couples relationships. Watch out for the next post, part TWO will give examples of common Executive Function Challenges couples work to overcome.

Robin describes a little about herself:

I am a professionally trained Teacher and Coach who is passionate about providing the best experience to my clients. As well as training, I have an in-depth understanding of the impacts of living with an Asperger’s Profile and/or ADHD in a world that is neurotypical. My approach to coaching is client-centered and strength-based. I join with clients to work through obstacles and meet self-determined goals. For Neurodivergent adults, challenges are often rooted in neurological differences which impact communication, executive function, and/or sensory regulation. As an experienced educator, I also have an understanding of learning disabilities, learning styles, accommodations, and a toolbox of strategies.

Coaching and education services are complementary to a variety of other professional services. When needed, I easily collaborate with other professionals and family members.

I meet with clients via online video calls (worldwide). I also meet with clients in person, as agreed to be necessary and safe on a case-by-case basis.

Find her at:

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