Executive functioning deficits characterize the neuropsychological profiles of the childhood neurodevelopmental disorders of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). This study sought to determine whether similar impairments exist in adults with ADHD (N = 53) and ASD (N = 45) in comparison with a healthy control group (N = 31), whether the two disorders can be distinguished on the basis of their executive functioning features, and whether these impairments are related to symptom severity. Both clinical groups were found to exhibit executive functioning deficits. The ADHD group had difficulty withholding a response, with relative preservation of initiation and planning abilities. In contrast, the ASD group exhibited significant impairments in initiation, planning and strategy formation. The specific executive functioning deficits were related to severity of response inhibition impairments in ADHD and stereotyped, repetitive behaviours in ASD. These findings suggest the pattern of executive functioning deficits follows a consistent trajectory into adulthood.