Executive Functioning Skills are the underlying skills we need to carry through day to day tasks. A child who has an executive functioning disorder may be very bright, and usually does well in school in the early elementary grades. As the demands for school increase, however, a child with Executive Functioning difficulties will not have the stamina or organization to keep up with the work, resulting in increased frustration and decreased participation in school.
Executive functioning skills include
- Impulse Control: knowing when to turn yourself off. For example, you want to to grab a cupcake, but you know you shouldn’t.
- Emotional Control: when you don’t get your way, you know not to have a tantrum; if you get a low test score, you calmly approach your teacher for extra help
- Flexible Thinking: being able to deal with changes to the day. For example, you have art instead of gym today.
- Working Memory: the ability to hold on to information until you need it later on. This skill is necessary to follow directions in the classroom and to be a successful reader.
- Self-Monitoring: being able to check over your own performance; edit and revise
- Planning and Prioritizing: when faced with several homework assignments, you are able to figure out the order to do the tasks and how much time to devote to each one. This can also be applied to the ability to organize and plan writing assignments
- Task Initiation: the ability to start an assignment or task
- Organization: knowing how to organize your backpack/desk/room/writing assignments
Intervention for students with executive functioning deficits begins with a comprehensive assessment to determine areas of strength and weakness. From this profile, the student and clinician set goals and make a plan that can easily be applied to the child’s school work. Sessions may include making organization checklists for a backpack, improving working memory skills, or learning how to use a “formula” to tackle writing assignments.
Some students may also benefit from small group work, to aid with developing emotional control, impulse control, and flexible thinking in a group of peers.