You may have a child or a student that has been diagnosed with Executive Functioning Disorder and you may be wondering what can you do to help. There are various strategies to use and understanding what Executive Functioning is the first step.
What is Executive Functioning?
Executive Functioning is the “conductor” of all functioning skills. These skills include:
Inhibition – The ability to stop one’s own behavior at the appropriate time
Shift – The ability to move freely from one situation to another
Emotional Control – The ability to modulate emotional responses
Initiation – The ability to begin a task or activity and to generate ideas
Working Memory – The ability to hold information in mind
Planning/Organization – The ability to manage current task demands
Organizational Materials -The ability to impose order on work, play, and storage spaces
Self-Monitoring – The ability to monitor one’s own performance and to measure it against the standard of what is needed
Children with Executive Functioning Disorder have problems organizing materials setting and following schedules. They misplace schoolwork and personal items. Homework does not get handed in on time or may get lost easily.
Strategies to help with Executive Functioning:
To help a child with Executive Functioning Disorder use visual schedules and calendars that identify the tasks and the progress made towards the goal. Break larger tasks into smaller more manageable tasks. Try a paper calendar to help organize your child. Students who have SEA equipment (Assistive Technology) such as a Chromebook or an iPad can use the calendar features to keep track of school work and assignments. Teachers can create checklists for assignments that help the student complete each task required for an assignment or homework. I use highlighters with my student and have them highlight important tasks. Remember to provide written instructions with oral instructions. Take a step by step approach and use visual organizational aids.
Other tools include graphic organizers on mapping tools. There are simple graphic organizers that you can download and print: Graphic Organizers Programs such as Smart Ideas, Inspiration, Popplet and MindMup are great tools to help organize thoughts and ideas.
For parents, it’s wise to set up a routine for home and homework. For younger children a reward system can help with understanding the importance of practicing a skill and working towards a goal. Parents should encourage their children and praise them for their efforts.
Executive Functioning skills are not something that children will grow into. Since we use organizational skills in our everyday life it is important for children to develop these skills. For children who naturally do not have these skills, strategies and alternative learning styles can help develop these skills.
To read more about Executive Functioning Disorder: Understood.org – Understanding Executive Functioning Disorders
Free e-book about Executive Functioning: Executive Function 101