Even the very brightest child can struggle in school if he or she has trouble setting goals and carrying out organized steps to successfully complete a task.
These skills, known collectively as executive function, help us with everything from getting dressed in the morning to writing a letter. While these skills come naturally for most of us, some children need to be taught how to execute tasks in an expected manner.
Pediatric Speech and Language Specialists uses advanced techniques to teach executive function skills. We don’t just tell children what to do. We teach them specific concepts and strategies so they can act more independently – without the constant support of parents and teachers.
We teach students to develop a “memory for the future,” which allows them to devise and organize plans to achieve their goal. We also provide them with practical techniques, such as self- talk, that are necessary to self-initiate a task and transition to the next step of higher priority to successfully complete it.
What Are The Signs Of Executive Function Deficits?
Executive function deficits are often, but not always, associated with developmental disorders including Verbal and Non-Verbal Learning Disorders, Asperger’s Syndrome, Autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
The demands of completing schoolwork independently can often trigger signs there are difficulties in this area. Or, you may simply notice your child has difficulty “reading the room” so that he or she can stop, think and create an appropriate action plan and infer possible outcomes.
Your child may be having trouble with executive function if he or she:
- Has difficulty planning a project
- Has trouble comprehending how much time a project will take to complete
- Struggles to tell a story (verbally or in writing)
- Has trouble communicating details in an organized, sequential manner
- Has difficulty with memorization and retrieving information from memory
- Has trouble initiating activities or tasks, or generating ideas independently
- Has difficulty retaining information while doing something with it (e.g., remembering a phone number while dialing)
The Importance Of Early Identification
It’s not unusual for a child with undiagnosed executive function deficits to achieve all A’s in high school but then fail in college because he or she becomes overwhelmed without the direct support of parents and tutors.
That’s why it’s important for parents and educators to pay early attention to a child’s ability to develop efficient skills in this area. The certified speech-language pathologists and learning specialists at PSLS can help identify specific deficits in a child’s executive function abilities through formal and informal assessments in order to address the lagging skills.
Based on a child’s needs, our speech-language pathologists and learning specialists offer small group classes or individual instruction in planning, organizing and managing time and space. We use cutting-edge techniques to teach students to understand the passage of time. We also teach them how to plan ahead by using forethought and becoming aware of their surroundings.
As a result, students learn how to:
- Develop a “memory for the future” by learning strategies to set and achieve goals.
- Improve awareness skills so they can “read a room” and “stop, think and create” an appropriate action plan by anticipating outcomes.
- Sense the passage of time to accurately and effortlessly estimate how long tasks will take as well as how to change or maintain their pace to finish tasks within an allotted amount of time.
- Adopt a mindful approach to homework, including personalized study habits such as recording, bringing home, completing and returning assignments.
- Manage multiple activities, including homework, projects and extracurricular activities, while still finding some down time.
- Organize their homework and personal spaces to create a positive and productive environment for homework and to track and organize their belongings.