Background: Executive function difficulties are prevalent in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and there are several indications of a modifying relationship between executive functions and language in children. However, there is limited research on the relationship between executive functioning and language in young children with ASD. The current study compared real-world executive functioning between groups of children with ASD, language disorders (LD), and typical development (TD). Method: The study included 256 children from three to five years of age with ASD (n = 60), LD (n = 132), and TD (n = 246). Assessment of executive functioning was based on the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Functioning – Preschool Version (BRIEF-P; Gioia, Espy, & Isquith, 2003). Group comparisons, using multivariate analyses of variance, were conducted to examine whether there were differences or similarities in executive functioning between the three groups. Relations between executive functioning, language, IQ, ASD symptom severity, and gender were examined, using correlational analyses. Results: Executive functions were impaired in both the ASD and LD groups compared to the children with TD. Levels of executive functioning were associated with language abilities in all the groups, but the ASD group showed executive function difficulties more independently of language ability. Conclusion: The results indicate there is a modifying relationship between executive functioning and language in pre-school children with ASD, LD, and TD. Pre-school children with ASD may experience more severe executive functioning difficulties than pre-school children with LD. This might have implications for the understanding of the nature of executive functioning in ASD.