Reasonable accommodations for executive dysfunction

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“Executive dysfunctions” come in all shapes and sizes — and they can be caused by many different conditions like attention-deficient hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism. But you don’t have to be born with executive function deficits to have them. Many people develop problems with executive functions due to things like brain injuries, strokes, lupus, multiple sclerosis and other chronic health conditions.

Even if you’ve never had a problem with executive dysfunction before now, a processing disorder or memory problems can really disrupt your work and interfere with your productivity. When there are ways to work around your executive function deficits, however, you have every right to ask your employer to make some reasonable accommodations.

Here are some of the common workplace accommodations used for people who suffer from executive dysfunction disorders:

  • The use of written instructions (rather than oral ones) and confirmation memos
  • The use of checklists and flowcharts on routine tasks
  • The use of recording devices at meetings to make it easier to review what was said at your own pace
  • Assistance prioritizing tasks or visual reminders of which tasks take priority (like color-coded labels)
  • The elimination of certain distractions or (when elimination isn’t possible) looking for ways to vastly reduce the distractions (like an opaque office window or the use of noise-canceling headphones while you’re working)
  • Flexible scheduling so that you can take breaks when you feel overwhelmed and unable to process any new information
  • The ability to organize your work so that you can tackle the jobs that take the most brainpower when you’re best able to cope with them

If your employer refuses to treat your executive dysfunction like any other valid disability, find out more about your legal options.