What are Executive Functions?
Completing assignments, meeting deadlines and managing time require us to marshal our cognitive and emotional capacities to get the job done. Executive functions are the brain-based capacities that enable us to accomplish tasks by regulating our emotions, attention, and behavior. Research done by Drs. Peg Dawson, Richard Guare, Russell A. Barkley, Thomas E. Brown, and others reveals the following capacities involved in the execution functions. Individuals with executive function skills weaknesses exhibit many of the following:
- Are unable to complete long-term assignments
- Have difficulty with problem-solving
- Bedroom and work areas are disorganized
- Are unable to organize tasks and activities
- Live in the present with little sense of future consequences
- Lose track of time when performing a preferred activity
- Are unable to respond to feedback and adjust accordingly
- Find it difficult to monitor or evaluate their performance
- Have difficulty with transitions
- Struggle to overcome setbacks
- Quickly forget steps, directions, and complex information
- Have poor reading comprehension
- Struggle to maintain friendships, relationships, or play on sports teams
- Have difficulty managing anxiety or frustrations when doing work
- Make impulsive decisions and purchases
- Have difficulty pulling themselves away from certain activities, such as video gaming, etc.
- Are easily distracted by their own irrelevant thoughts
- Feel tired or fall asleep while doing tasks
- Require several prompts to begin a non-preferred task
- Exhibit a pattern of incomplete projects and tasks
- Don't follow through on promises
If you identify with several of the executive function deficits described above, then you or your student may benefit from executive functional skills coaching.