Skip to content

ChatGPT Weighs in on Neurodivergent-affirming Approaches to Executive Functioning Skills

Image of a robot playing a piano

I tried ChatGPT for a Blog Post on Executive Functioning from a Neurodivergent-affirming Perspective. Here's the ChatGPT Post:

"Embracing Neurodiversity: Exploring Different Types of Executive Functioning"

“In recent years, the concept of neurodiversity has gained significant recognition, challenging traditional notions of cognitive functioning and mental differences. One area where this perspective shines is in understanding executive functioning through the lens of neurodivergence affirmation. Rather than pathologizing differences, this approach celebrates the unique strengths and challenges that individuals with varying executive functioning styles bring to the table.

1. **Diverse Executive Functioning Styles**
Neurodiversity acknowledges that executive functioning, a set of cognitive processes that help us plan, organize, initiate tasks, focus attention, regulate emotions, and manage time, varies widely among individuals. Rather than viewing these differences as deficits, a neurodivergence affirming perspective recognizes them as distinct cognitive styles that can offer innovative problem-solving and creative thinking.

2. **Hyperfocus vs. Fluctuating Attention**
Traditional models of executive functioning often emphasize sustained attention, but neurodiversity highlights the beauty of hyperfocus – the ability to deeply concentrate on a single task for extended periods. Hyperfocus can lead to remarkable accomplishments in fields where intense dedication is crucial. Additionally, some individuals may experience fluctuating attention, finding it easier to switch between tasks rapidly. This skill can foster adaptability and versatility.

3. **Rigid Structure vs. Flexible Thinking**
While a structured approach to tasks can be highly effective, neurodiversity recognizes the strength in flexible thinking. Some individuals thrive when working within unstructured environments, allowing their minds to explore innovative solutions that may not have been considered otherwise. This adaptive thinking can lead to groundbreaking ideas and unique problem-solving approaches.

4. **Inclusive Planning and Organizing Strategies**
From color-coded calendars to digital reminders, the ways people manage their time and tasks are diverse. Neurodiversity emphasizes that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to planning and organizing. It encourages the exploration of strategies that cater to individual strengths and preferences, creating an inclusive environment that respects the diversity of executive functioning styles.

5. **Emotional Regulation and Self-Care**
Neurodivergence affirmation recognizes that emotional regulation is a multifaceted process. While some individuals might excel in regulating their emotions through traditional means, others may rely on alternative methods, such as sensory experiences or creative outlets. This perspective emphasizes the importance of embracing various techniques that allow individuals to manage their emotions in ways that work best for them.

In conclusion, a neurodivergence affirming perspective on executive functioning highlights the value of embracing diverse cognitive styles. By acknowledging the strengths and challenges that come with different ways of thinking and processing information, we foster an environment that encourages innovation, creativity, and collaboration. Embracing neurodiversity in executive functioning enriches our understanding of cognitive differences and paves the way for a more inclusive and vibrant society.”

Then I asked Why we Should NOT use ND-affirming Strategies. Here's What it Said.

My Question: "Explain why we should not use neurodivergent-affirming strategies to help kids in school"

It’s important to clarify that the decision to use or not use neurodivergent-affirming strategies in schools should be based on careful consideration of individual needs and circumstances. While there are reasons some might have reservations about exclusively using such strategies, it’s essential to approach this discussion with sensitivity and nuance.

  1. Individual Variability: Neurodivergent-affirming strategies might not be suitable for every student. Just as neurotypical students have unique learning preferences, neurodivergent students can also vary widely in their cognitive styles and needs. Blanket approaches could inadvertently overlook the individualized support some students require.

  2. Balancing Individualization and Standardization: Education systems often seek to strike a balance between providing personalized support and maintaining a certain level of standardized curriculum. Implementing solely neurodivergent-affirming strategies might challenge the feasibility of adhering to standardized educational frameworks.

  3. Skill Development: In some cases, students benefit from learning skills that are traditionally emphasized in education, such as time management, task prioritization, and structured organization. While it’s crucial to accommodate diverse learning styles, these foundational skills are valuable for overall academic and future success.

  4. Transitioning to Different Environments: Students will eventually enter various environments beyond school, such as higher education or the workforce, where flexibility and adaptability to different approaches are essential. Exclusively using neurodivergent-affirming strategies might not adequately prepare them for these transitions.

  5. Balancing Strengths and Challenges: Neurodivergent-affirming strategies should aim to strike a balance between celebrating strengths and addressing challenges. Focusing solely on strengths might unintentionally overlook areas where a student could benefit from additional support and skill development.

  6. Parental Involvement: Parents play a crucial role in their child’s education. Some parents might have concerns or misconceptions about neurodivergent-affirming strategies. It’s important to engage in open dialogue and collaborative decision-making to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the best approach for each student.

In essence, the key is to find a middle ground that respects and integrates neurodivergent-affirming strategies while also acknowledging the diverse needs of students. An inclusive educational environment should be one that considers both neurodivergent and neurotypical perspectives, fostering an atmosphere of understanding, adaptability, and mutual support.

And now, the Human (i.e., me) Perspective

A Neurodivergent-affirming Perspective to Executive Functioning: What, Why, and... Wow AI did Pretty Well Here

AI is everywhere. In fact, as I type this, the blog editor has a new (to me) button shining at me suggesting I “Edit with AI.” With the ND-affirming strategies questions, AI did pretty well, I must say. Granted, this post really isn’t about that. I’m just messing around with the AI thing. But, the responses are interesting… So, here’s my human take on neurodivergent executive functioning skills:

  1. What: A ND-affirming approach to executive functioning is a shift from thinking of only NT norms when it comes to executive functioning. So, the various executive functioning skills will look different and be approached differently rather than trying to teach NT ways of executive functioning to ND kids. For example, when it comes to organization, it may be useful to keep certain stuff visible instead of put away so it’s easier to remember and takes fewer steps to access. For emotional regulation, a student may walk around in the back of the class instead of sitting still at the desk trying to will themselves not to blurt out. Time management and task initiation/task completion may look like the pomodoro method or body doubling. Planning may look like chunking tasks and starting with the smallest first step. Point: doing things differently doesn’t mean doing them wrong. And, deficits or no when it comes to executive functioning, stop trying to teach ND kids NT ways. Teach ND kids ND skills. “This is the way.” – the Mandalorian

  2. Why: You know that saying about not trying to teach a fish to climb a tree? Well, that. That’s why. Stop trying to teach the fish kid to climb the tree. Help the fish kid with self-advocacy skills so they can maybe get a duck kid, or a friendly adult squirrel, or somebody to go get the fish’s ball out of the tree. Or whatever. The kid doesn’t need more stars and tickets and tokens for doing neurotypical stuff that just isn’t going to work for them long term and may lead to burn out. The kid needs skills that fit their strengths and their way their brain functions. If ChatGPT can figure out what that might look like, maybe the humans can as well. (A note about ChatGPT’s responses: being neurodivergent in a neurotypical world can really feel really awful in lots of ways. The sunshine rainbows version talking about “superpowers” of hyperfocus and the like can be dismissive and isn’t exactly the way I’d go. But it’s better than silent lunch and no recess). 

  3. Wow: ChatGPT gave some of the standard “why not” responses, but in a way that sounds like ChatGPT doesn’t even believe that nonsense. Two of the real reasons that I think people actually don’t do this, which the AI mentioned: “adhering to standardized educational frameworks” and “concerns or misconceptions about neurodivergent-affirming strategies.” That’s the truth. Grown ups aren’t ready, don’t get it, and/or don’t know how to make it happen. Too bad. Get ready. Get informed. Make it happen. All those other fears about “they have to learn some day” or “the real world won’t let them just…”, those are fears, not facts. Feel the fear, and do it anyway. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *