What is Executive Age?

Executive function is a set of mental skills that include working memory, flexible thinking, and self-control. We use these skills every day to learn, work, and manage daily life. Trouble with executive function can make it hard to focus, follow directions, and handle emotions, among other things. (understood.org)

Let’s discuss Executive Age. It’s something I have just been introduced to in the autism/ADHD FaceBook groups that I frequent. So forgive me if I make a mistake, as I am literally just studying it right now.

Folks compare Executive Age versus Biological Age when describing the catching up that some kiddos have to do. I admit that I have looked at my daughter and said, “You’re 6! This is something that you should be able to do!” Immediately I felt regret, about my tone and for losing my temper. The shame on her face was enough to make me snap back into focus. 

It is uniquely DIFFICULT to parent our littles with ADHD. It requires infinite patience and grace, which is humanly impossible. When I am filled with remorse and guilt I never fail to take the opportunity to apologize and own my own crap. My daughters are much closer to me for it, and I feel comforted in knowing they will know how to apologize appropriately in the future. My husband is on the same page, for which I am very fortunate. 

The most important part of Executive Age that I want to emphasize in this blog is that it is not a reflection of intellect. Kids who are of a biological age may certainly have the intellectual capacity of their typical peers. However they are just a few levels behind in terms of their ability to learn, work, and manage daily life. 

I see this in my daughter. But most significantly, I see this in myself. Introspective introvert that I am, I have always felt just a few steps behind my peers. “Why don’t I get this? Why didn’t I get this when everyone else did? Why am I just getting this now?” These thoughts permeated my mind and contributed to my low self-esteem, low self worth, and self-shaming.

Most noteworthy, I felt this way during undergrad and grad school. I felt intellectually worthy to have my place at the table. But I also felt like a fraud. And then looking back, I always felt “I would have been so much more prepared for undergrad/grad school now. I am just getting this now. Why am I just mastering this now?”

It is important to discuss Executive Functioning and Executive Age, if you feel your child is receptive to these abstract concepts. And if they are not, it is vital as parents and caregivers to know this. To give kids a break, cut them some slack, meet them where they’re at. The anxiety and shame are debilitating. I can speak from experience that I carried the weight and have the scars to prove it. I am only learning and undoing the pain now.

I will not stand for any child or adult to feel the same pain. ADHD is an invisible illness. There is no broken leg to point to. Instead we are met with judgement and shame.

I encourage you to study Executive Functioning. To discuss it with the ADHD folks in your lives. And to use this tool as a resource for healing and not for additional pain.

Mama Tine 


Resources I recommend and used in this blog:




The above image is an illustration that describes Executive Age versus Biological Age. 


Let’s discuss HF autism and honoring your body

Sensory processing disorder is a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses. 

Formerly referred to as sensory integration dysfunction, it is not currently recognized as a distinct medical diagnosis. (WebMD).

Let me preface this blog with my acknowledgement that I have a lot to learn.  I wanted to post a quick blog on the subject of HF autism, sensory processing disorder SPD, and the debilitating desire to crash in the form of naps. I just woke up from such a nap. I woke up groggy, then refreshed, then with a desire to gather my thoughts and pen them to paper.  It is therapeutic to me to find a home for these errant thoughts, so they stop swimming in my mind and I can lay them to rest (I wonder if this is the ADHD inattentive type in me).

Sensory processing disorder (see WebMD as it was my first source for blogging today) is the inability for folks like me to habituate to everyday stimulation: sound, light, touch.  It feels like everything irritates me, and everyone else around me is unbothered.  It hurts.

Today I had an amazing morning.  Just phenomenal.  I woke up ready to start my day.  My kids were in a good mood.  Al was in a similar sunny mood and enjoyed his commute to work, all twenty steps to the loft where he works from home. I was primed for success.

And I had the most productive morning in ages.  I am not exaggerating when I say I completed two weeks’ of tasks: organization of bills, case management of my daughters, my own health needs, appointments, checking in with my older parents, and more.  Summer home-schooling my three daughters, attending to their exceptional needs, providing a stimulating environment amidst COVID/shelter in place, and making sure they were only consuming appropriate material on their devices (I’m looking at you, YouTube).

So come this late afternoon, I crashed.  Inside my heart and mind I was still riding the wave of energy and productivity.  My mood was positive.  But my body was protesting.  After playing Animal Crossing with my eldest daughter, my littlest one snuggled up with me and I succumbed to my tired body.

I used to carry SO MUCH SHAME on this aspect.  I was convinced there was something wrong with me, I was of inferior quality, and I must be garbage since I just never could get my crap together.  I was known as the lazy sleeping one in my extended family and among my social groups.

Receiving my HFA diagnosis was the event that set me free. I am able to complete more tasks, to contribute so much more to my family and immediate community.  I know the source of my overwhelming fatigue and so I shed the shame I was carrying about my body.  

But I still crash.  At least the depression and shame have been set aside for the most part.  I am managing my anxiety a lot better.  I still take the medications I have been using for an extended period of time.  

But I honor my body by taking these late afternoon naps.  I acknowledge my extreme privilege across the board.  I am a fortunate and lucky person.  My life is such that I can do all these things I do in a day.

I urge you to take a nap, if you can.  If you are in my shoes, please be gentle with your mind, body, and spirit.  

If this describes a loved one in your life, please try to envelope them in understanding.  It is a heavy burden to bear.  Simple, everyday tasks are draining.  They might not understand what they experiencing. And maybe they do, and they are self-shaming and isolating from loved ones.

If you are the caregiver or partner of someone like me, seek your own support system.  It is a draining vocation.  It is exhausting to watch and support your loved one as they suffer.   

More to come, as I have only scratched the surface here. 

Sending you all the warm fuzzies,

Mama Tine