Executive Function disorder : A Definition
Let’s start with what the Executive Functions are, then we’ll talk about overcoming Executive Function disorder. You may also want to visit the page discussing ways to help your child develop Organization Skills with IEP goals for Organization.
What is an Executive Function disorder?
Executive Functioning is “the ability to maintain an appropriate problem solving set for attainment of a future goal” (CDC).
“Behaviors that can be observed include, but are not limited to:
- poor organization skills,
- poor planning skills,
- poor strategy use;
- concrete thinking;
- lack of inhibition;
- difficulty grasping cause and effect;
- inability to delay gratification;
- difficulty following multi-step directions;
- difficulty changing strategies,
- difficulty thinking of things in a different way (i.e., perseveration);
- poor judgment; and
- inability to apply knowledge to new situations.” (CDC)
Children with executive function disorder have difficulty reading social cues and may feel overwhelmed in large group situations. If this is the case with your child, you can teach your child social skills directly so he won’t be quite so socially inept. Check out, Socially Inept: How to Improve Your Child’s Social Skills for more information about social skills training.
Executive function disorders can cause pervasive problems with your child’s learning because executive functioning affects multiple areas of learning. Every subject your child studies can be affected by executive functioning disorder, and particularly any academic area that requires sequential processing or planning.
Remediation for executive function disorder requires practice with brain-based learning and cognitive enhancement programs. Regular use of a cognitive enhancement program can increase skills such as auditory processing, visual discrimination, processing speed, planning, sequencing, attention to detail, etc.
Cognitive enhancement programs are often overlooked when developing an educational program for a child, yet the gains made through these programs can create significant gains across all academic subjects.
Some programs require more involvement from you, while others can be used independently by your child. When selecting the most appropriate program for you and your child, consider how much time and interaction you can commit, how well you can work one-on-one with your child, how well your child works alone.
If you have trouble working with your child, an outside provider may have an easier time gaining cooperation from your child. In such cases, you might want to use one of the programs with a third-party provider.
To get the most out of the program you choose, try to match the program to your child’s abilities and needs. There is no sense in purchasing a program your child can’t or won’t use.
Also, if your child needs to improve his memory and processing speed, you may be able to get by with a program that focuses only on those skills rather than buying a robust cognitive enhancement program.
Programs to Consider for Improving Executive Functioning:
Homeschooling can be an excellent way to help your child learn to manage and overcome his executive function disorder because you can work directly with your child each and every day to instill the organization and planning skills your child needs. By setting up routines, establishing planning practices, and helping guide your child through assignments step-by-step, you can enable him to be successful educationally.
As a child gets older, and has had good solid training in processes needed to overcome executive function disorder, he becomes better able to independently use the tools and systems put into place which enables him to stay on track.
**Brain Training software – We used The Lexia Cross-Trainer Suite, which was designed to improve cognitive development in learners ages 7 to adult, but is no longer being sold by Lexia as a software program you can use at home. There are a lot of great Brain Training software programs that are new on the market and available for home use, so go check the programs out. Brain Training software helps strengthen thinking, memory, processing speed, and problem-solving abilities, improving performance across subjects as varied as reading, math, science, and social studies.”
**Lexia Learning’s CrossTrainer – This is the program we used as a PC based program. It is now offered online via this company. “The Lexia Cross-Trainer Suite is designed to improve cognitive development in learners ages 7 to adult. The software helps learning disabled, special needs, and mainstream students strengthen their thinking, memory, and problem-solving abilities, improving performance across subjects as varied as reading, math, science, and social studies.”
**Dance, Dance Revolution – A means of helping a child with concentration, sequencing, and timing. Dance, Dance Revolution also comes in versions for the XBox and Gamecube, and there are many other Dance, Dance Revolution. While DDR is not an academic program, the game is “played” with a dancepad that registers footwork by the player. This game helps with concentration and timing because the play must take the dance steps in the specified order within a short timeframe. If the step is too early or too late, it doesn’t count. The game can be played at different speeds, allowing a child to start out slowly and work progressively towards speed.
DDR is a great concentration & timing game, and just like Interactive Metronome, patients learn to: “focus and attend for longer periods of time, increase physical endurance and stamina, filter out internal and external distractions, improve ability to monitor mental and physical actions as they are occurring, and progressively improve performance.”
**Audiblox Program which is administered by the parent/provider, requires a commitment to consistent use, and helps with many EF issues.
**Earobics – Computer-based program that is easily used on a daily basis; game play format that children enjoy, increases cognitive skills, but is geared more towards children with auditory processing difficulties or dyslexia.
**LearningRx (Processing and Cognitive Enhancement) – Tutoring model; requires commitment to tutoring sessions and home exercises. “The training is built from a tested and proven set of cognitive skills training exercises that improve Processing Speed, Visual Processing, Logic and Reasoning, Working Memory, Long-term Memory, Attention, and basic Auditory Processing skills.”
**Brain Gym – Simple program to use at home; enhances learning, but does not specifically target EF skills. “Brain Gym is a program of physical movements that enhance learning and performance in ALL areas. Brain Gym includes 26 easy and enjoyable targeted activities that integrate body and mind to bring about rapid and often dramatic improvements in: concentration, memory, reading, writing, organizing, listening, physical coordination, and more.”
**Interactive Metronome. – “Provides a structured, goal-oriented process that challenges the patient to synchronize a range of hand and foot exercises to a precise computer-generated reference tone heard through headphones. The patient attempts to match the rhythmic beat with repetitive motor actions. Over the course of the treatment, patients learn to: focus and attend for longer periods of time, increase physical endurance and stamina, filter out internal and external distractions, improve ability to monitor mental and physical actions as they are occurring, and progressively improve performance.” This program is administered by an IM provider with additional work required at home.