I just explained my issues with executive dysfunction to my dad and holy shit he gets it!
I described it like this:
Imagine you’re back at AllPro(where he worked) with fifty phones and they’re all ringing. You want to answer them all because they’re all equal priority. That’s an environmental cue– phones are generally a ‘respond immediately’ cue.
Picking up a phone is a simple thing. You know it’s as easy as deciding which phone to answer and reaching out to pick it up, but your brain is saying “I must answer all of them!” The phones are ringing, and you can’t make your body reach out to pick one up because you don’t have fifty arms to reach out, you don’t have fifty ears to listen with, you don’t have a brain that can process and respond to fifty conversations and you don’t have fifty mouths that can all say different things all at the same time.
Either you do it all simultaneously or nothing will happen. You can want to do it so bad it makes you cry, and you can’t make a decision because no choice seems like the right one. So the task stays unfinished and you get frustrated every time somebody reminds you to “just do it, it’s not that hard!” Because yes, it really IS that hard.
Now, if you had somebody who could point to which phone to answer, you can do it fine. That’s a prompt. Prompting removes the ‘middle man’ thought that says ‘do it all at once’ and gets you to focus on tasks one at a time instead of seeing them as some towering insurmountable mess.
Dad looked at me for a couple of seconds and said something to the effect of, “I didn’t know doing things were that hard for you.”
This is a major, major, major breakthrough between us because dad had it in his head that I left things messy because I didn’t care. While that’s crappy of him to assume, teaching him how that’s not the case and having him really understand it is a huge deal.