We can think about Executive Functions (EF) as the “control center” of our brain. These are the functions in our brain that allow us to plan, initiate, and follow thorough with a task. Children who have trouble in this area can appear disorganized and struggle in school. They can have difficulty in the following areas:
- Initiation (getting something started quickly and easily)
- Inhibition (impulse control, putting on the “brakes” and thinking before acting)
- Flexibility (shifting from one activity to another, accepting a different way of doing things)
- Working Memory (keeping information in mind while performing a task)
- Organization (keeping track of materials, understanding what the main point is, seeing the big picture, and knowing what the top priority is at any given time)
- Planning (developing, carrying out, and modifying a plan of action)
- Self-monitoring (tracking your performance, e.g., “How am I doing?”)
Children with executive dysfunction have trouble with “mental time-travel” and therefore struggle with planning and organizing. Giving children strategies such as visualizing and tools to sense themselves moving through time better equips them for planning and following through with tasks efficiently.
Self-regulation is another important part of executive function. Emotional regulation can be defined as processes that responsible for controlling your emotional reactions to meet your goal. This includes monitoring, evaluating, and modifying the intensity and timing of your emotional response (Kuypers, 2011). The Zones of Regulation (TM) curriculum is infused into activities to help children identify and monitor their own feelings and behaviors.
Through metacogniton (thinking about thinking), we teach children how their brains work and give them “mindsight”into their brains. Through innovative programs such Brain Talk(TM) and Brain Wise (TM), MindUp (TM) as well using mindfulness techniques, we can teach children how to pause in a moment instead of reacting to circumstances.
Weakness in EF skills can co-occur with other diagnoses such as ADHD. Executive Function Disorder is characterized by the following features.
- Trouble planning projects or assignments
- Inability to organize thoughts or schoolwork
- Problems with memorization’
- Estimating outcomes
- Unable to verbalize or write a story in the proper sequence
- Forgets to turn in homework
- Failure to set proprieties.
If your are interested in helping your child strengthen these skills, call to set up a free consultation.