Executive Functions

Below you will find topic specific mental health and educational strategies that you may find helpful.  In the spirit of collaborative dialog, I have created this space to capture effective strategies and products that have been helpful in the field.  Please feel free to comment or add to the enclosed content.  If you would like to submit a strategy for review, simply email me or comment in the space provided below.  The sharing of effective approaches can only help children and adolescents reach their true potential.  All submissions will be identified with the name of the person submitting and please accredited to the appropriate source.

Brief Overview: Peg Dawson, Ed.D and Dick Guare, Ph.D. at the Center for Learning and Attention Disorders in Portsmouth, NH are authors of several books and experts on executive functions.  They describe Executive Skills (or Executive Functions) as skills that “allow us to organize our behavior over time and override immediate demands in favor of longer-term goals. Through the use of these skills we can plan and organize activities, sustain attention, and persist to complete a task.  Executive skills enable us to manage our emotions and monitor our thoughts in order to work more efficiently and effectively.  Simply stated, these skills help us to regulate our behavior” (Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents, 2004).” Executive Functions (EF) are often assessed through standardized test and/or questionnaires such as the Behavioral Ratings Inventory of Executive Functions (BRIEF).    The BRIEF is a questionnaire that can be given to parents, teachers and individuals to assess the following subcategories: inhibit, shift, emotional control, initiate, working memory, plan/organize, organization of materials and monitor.

Strategies:

Academic Coaching.   Nancy Ratey an early pioneer of ADHD coaching once told me the goal of coaching is to bridge the gap between motivation and follow through.  There are many models of academic coaching and a coach can be a peer, case manager, family friend or a trained professional coach.  Most models help a student develop strategies and habits to increase task completion by tracking work completion.

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Ben Hillyard
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