“Executive functions’ (EF) are complex cognitive processes necessary for planning, organizing, guiding, revising, regulating, and evaluating behaviour necessary to adapt effectively to the environment and to achieve goals” (Bauermeister, 2008). These skills therefore helps individuals to plan, manage time, control emotions and get tasks done. They’re also important for staying focused and solving problems.

These skills are crucial for learning and development and appear in basic forms in young children and gradually become more complex as the brain matures throughout childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. Executive functions also enable positive behaviour and allow us to make healthy choices for ourselves and our families.

Executive functions can be grouped into the following three cognitive processes:

  • Working memory which governs our ability to retain and manipulate information
  • Mental flexibility helps us to shift attention in response to different demands
  • Self-control helps us to resist impulsive actions or responses and to set priorities.

It is important to know that other conditions like anxiety disorders, ADHD, obsessive compulsive disorder and autism can produce the same behaviours and often co-occur with executive functioning challenges. It has been proven that children (or adults) diagnosed with ADHD experience more challenges with executive functions than most of their peers of the same age and developmental level.  This is because the three main EF skills are responsible for attention and self-regulation.

Possible signs that your child may have problems with executive functioning include:

  • Difficulty planning projects
  • Poor organizational skills
  • Not being able to estimate how much time a project will take to complete
  • Struggles to tell stories (verbally or in writing)
  • Problems with memorizing work
  • Delays starting activities or tasks
  • Struggles with emotional regulation
  • Impulsivity

The effects of ‘Executive Dysfunction’ extend beyond cognitive abilities often resulting in psychological, emotional and behavioural challenges.

My support with EF focuses on, first of all putting processes in place to support the individual to manage life in general and then to resolving the psychological and emotional effect on the individual as a result of Executive Dysfunction. I focus on individual therapy and coaching, parental guidance, providing suggestions to classroom teachers where necessary.

My executive functioning support also aims to assist the client to develop, internalize and integrate his/her own tools and self-knowledge to direct and manage life and academic/study challenges.