You may have heard the term “Executive Functions” tossed around – or it may be new to you. Simplified, Executive Functioning (EF) skills are skills that support goal directed behavior. We begin developing these skills as infants (think Piaget’s object permanence theory), but they are not fully developed until the frontal lobe is fully mature, somewhere around age 25. There are different ways to name and group the EF skills, but I favor those delineated by the Smart But Scattered series of books (Dawson & Guerre).
EF skills include:
- response inhibition
- working memory
- emotional control
- sustained attention
- task initiation
- time management
- goal-directed persistence
- metacognition (self-reflection)
Deficits to these skills may show up as problems following directions, remembering a sequence of activities, learning from past mistakes, staying focused for duration of a task, organizing, maintaining emotional control, and being flexible with unexpected changes. These, in turn, manifest into problems at home, school, work, and with social skills.
Individuals with ADD/ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder are especially lacking in one or more EF skills. Most kids and adolescents could use some help managing them temporarily, as there is a true gap between expectations from teachers, coaches, etc and actual ability due to brain immaturity.
Attend a FREE parent class to learn more about EF skills and how to help your child build skills needed for life!