Remediation for Executive Functioning or Executive Dysfunction issues is relatively difficult, but brain-based learning and cognitive enhancement programs can increase skills such as auditory processing, visual discrimination, processing speed, phonological awareness, planning, sequencing, attention to detail, etc. By increasing a child's functioning in any cognitive skill area, his overall level of academic achievement can be enhanced. These programs are often overlooked when developing an educational program, yet the gains made through these programs can create significant gains across all academic subjects. Some programs require more parent involvement, and some can be used by the child without significant adult assistance.
Executive functioning (EF), or Executive Dysfunction, is defined as "the ability to maintain an appropriate problem solving set for attainment of a future goal and that this ability includes the more specific skills of inhibition, planning, and mental representation. Behaviors that can be observed (or reported) in the clinical setting that might indicate an EF deficit that should be assessed by standardized testing include, but are not limited to poor organization, planning, or strategy use; concrete thinking; lack of inhibition; difficulty grasping cause and effect; inability to delay gratification; difficulty following multistep directions; difficulty changing strategies or thinking of things in a different way (i.e., perseveration); poor judgment; and inability to apply knowledge to new situations." (CDC)
Children with Executive Dysfunction have difficulty reading social cues and may feel overwhelmed in large group situations. EF can cause pervasive problems as this disability does not affect only one area of learning like Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, or Dyscalculia. Every subject can be affected by Executive Dysfunction issues, but particularly any academic area that requires sequential processing.(continued below..)
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, and whether an outside provider will have an easier time gaining cooperation when working with your child. To get the most out of the program you choose, try to match the program to your abilities and needs. There is no sense in purchasing a program you can't or don't use.
Recommended for Home Use:
**Dance, Dance Revolution - A means of helping a child with concentration, sequencing, and timing. Dance, Dance Revolution Extreme 2 for the PlayStation2 with Dancepad also comes in versions for the XBox and Gamecube, and there are many other Dance, Dance Revolution Products. 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." (continued below..)
**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.
**PACE (Processing and Cognitive Enhancement) - Tutoring model; requires commitment to tutoring sessions and home exercises.
**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.
**Lexia Learning's CrossTrainer - "The Lexia Cross-Trainer Suite is designed to improve cognitive development in learners ages 7 to adult, but as far as I can find is no longer being sold by Lexia. If you can find a copy for sale on eBay or elsewhere, it is a good product. 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."