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Weak Central Coherence and Executive Function: Why I get nothing done!

Yesterday I spent the entire day working but getting nothing done. Yes, you are seeing this right; I piddled with my computer and got distracted, was at a loss for words, and accomplishing nothing! Well, nothing meaning not what I intended or needed to accomplish. I was continually getting myself lost on the way to a thought.

I started to write an article, and then realized I wanted to read my son’s diagnosis reports that were sent to us from the psychologist. I had grabbed them off the table in the living room earlier in the morning, and thought I put them on my desk. But—if I had, then they would have been sitting right in front of me on the desk, and they were not. I misplaced the diagnosis! What had I done with them, where did I go?

I walked into the kitchen and found them sitting on the counter right outside the door to the laundry room, and then I got distracted by the clothes in the laundry room that needed folding. I folded the clothes, and transferred a load of wet clothes from the washer to the dryer (dang it, I need to do that right now too—see what I mean?). By the time I was done, I forgot what I was going to write.

Determined to get my wandering mind back on track, I sat at the computer; then the baby started to cry. Baby was fed, changed, dressed, and then I remembered that I had an appointment at noon. I had better get in the shower and get dressed—where had the morning gone? The rest of my day went along much the same way, which got me thinking. What is the problem?—weak central coherence and executive dysfunction strikes again!

Today, I am immeasurably more focused, mainly attributed to my resuming my Adderall that I was unable to take while pregnant. The Adderall definitely helps me with my focus and improves my executive functioning allowing me to write for answers.com article, Autism and Central Coherence: Missing the Forest for the Trees, which I thought I would share with you all today.

Thoughts? I’m all ears! (Look at me using idioms—progress obtained!) Now back to work…

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Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert, contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, on the autism spectrum.


  1. P.S. I only use the free version of Simpleology.

  2. Thanks for this example! Believe me, I’m not on the spectrum, but I am easily distracted 🙂 One suggestion I have is to use Simpleology.com (I’m not selling this at all). I use it daily to make sure that I focus on the most important tasks, one at a time. They also have an add-on for browsers, so that you can block all other sites while working on your most important tasks – for example, if I type in Facebook while working, it will redirect me write back to my to do list. Distractions be gone! 🙂

  3. My central coherence is weak! I will focus on the big picture, and miss crucial details, or get tunnel vision, & laser focus on one or two details. As for the leaving one thing half done, or almost getting started on something- forget about it. Aspiehubby calls me his flittering faery. We love Alex Clare’s song “Hummingbird”- “Like a hummingbird in flight you are hovering, hovering ’round me. As I draw near you fly away.” That’s me!
    How I can keep mentioning this (among other things) to shrinks, then getting labelled PPD:NOS is beyond me. Clearly, I can’t beat them, so preparing to join them & hoping to shed light on the intricacies of high-functioning ASD.
    This article is as great as the last. Keep up the good work.

  4. Have you tried anything other than Adderall? I tried Strattera for the same reasons (never tried Adderall) and did not get that much relief. I considered asking my doctor about Adderall, but because it’s a controlled substance I feel all kinds of weird asking for a script. Asking for it seems shady and I really don’t know how to ask without seeming like I have an angle other than relief.

    • I have; I have tried Vyvanse, which is also a stimulant but had terrible headaches from it. It did help me focus, but the headaches when it wore off was not worth it. After about a month I went right back to Adderall.

      If you need, and or could benefit from the medication I would definitely talk to your doctor about it. It is true that it’s a controlled substance, but I would not let that stop you from asking.

      You could approach it by first telling the doctor of the difficulties that you are having and that you have tried Strattera and it was of little help. Tell him/her that you know a few people with similar difficulties who have been helped by Adderall (note it is not helpful to everyone), and was wondering if he/she thought it could help you as well. If so, then you would like to give it a try.

      If you have yourself a little script (the speech kind, not the drugs kind) ready you will have a little more confidence to ask.

      Just think–the worst thing the doctor could say is, no–and you already have that. You are already not on the medication, so there is nothing at all to lose. I hope I was helpful. Let me know how it goes 🙂 and of course, if you give it a try let me know if it has helped you.

      My ASD son (14) is also taking Adderall, and it is a tremendous help to him as well, but as I have mentioned it is no so for everyone.

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