Executive Functioning (EF) Disorder

Relates to difficulty in self regulation, organizing, integration, or high order reasoning skills.

                "Executive Function disorder, is a disability of not being able to show what you know" 

Executive Function disorder is associated with many disabilities: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD), Learning Disabilities (LD), Tourette Syndrome (TS) , Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Autism, Depression, Bipolar, etc.

Most people with AD/HD also have Executive Function Disorder, but someone can have Executive Function Disorder without being diagnosed with a disability.  Executive Function program and services would be needed if the student progress in the general growth in the acquisition of knowledge and skills, are being negatively impacted.

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Eight Pillars of Executive Control by Dr. Adam J. Cox, Ph.D., January 2009, Minuteman Technical High School SEPAC presentation
1. Initiating Action
being able to organize one’s thoughts well enough to get started on a particular task without having to be asked multiple times.
2. Flexible Thinking involves learning to adapt by shifting one’s focus and pace as various situations unfold. Imagine how difficult it would be to drive your car if it wouldn’t turn and only went one speed. (About as difficult as parenting a child with only one speed and one direction!)
3. Sustaining Attention
focusing long enough and accurately enough to learn important information. By extension, attention also involves the ability to block distraction. A well orchestrated “executive brain” knows its priorities.
4. Organization
is about managing space. It’s also about taking the emotional impact of chaos seriously. Why? Because chronic disorganization undermines forward momentum – a sense of accomplishment.
5. Planning is about managing time, and is more important than any other executive pillar when it comes to finishing things on schedule. A planning mind uses time as a tool to clarify priorities and enhance productivity; indispensable skills to 21st century success, beginning with school and,
eventually, careers.
6. Working Memory
is the ability to retain information long enough for it to be stored in long-term memory. Our society has a word for this process – learning. Of all the executive controls, working memory is the most pervasive, contributing to the smooth operation of every pillar. (Working memory is the rocket fuel of the modern mind.)
7. Self Awareness
pertains to having both sufficient self-knowledge and an ability to perceive how others see you. This information is essential to making purposeful choices about how to act in situations where one wants to avoid unintended consequences that lead to isolation or ostracism.
8. Regulating Emotions
means expressing one’s feelings in proportion to the events that elicited them. When a child under or over-reacts, she is out-of-sync with people or particular events. Socially, people tend to ignore a silent recluse, and run away from an “erupting volcano.”
From his book: No Mind Left Behind: Understanding and Fostering Executive Control- The Eight Essential Brain Skills every Child Needs to Thrive, by Adam J. Cox, Ph.D. Psychologist

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Executive Function Skills, by Sarah Ward, MS, CCC-SLP , February, 2007 SPED PAC Presentation

3 Primary Layers of Executive Functions:

  1. Self Regulation
    1. Awareness
    2. Motivation
    3. Initiation
    4. Emotional Control

i.  Self awareness

ii.  Self monitor the ability to inhibit or delay responding, which permits impulse control resistance to distraction and delay of gratification)

iii. Metacognition (Learning how to learn)

  1. Organization and Integration
    1. Integrate details into a bigger picture
    2. Organize and store information so it can be traced back and retrieved over time (Episodic Memory),  (used for planning for the future)
  1. Higher Order Reasoning Skills
    1. Analyze
    2. Draw a conclusion
    3. Solve a problem
    4. Predict an outcome
    5. Reason
    6. Evaluate
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Executive Function Programs:

Center for Speech and Language Pathology, Lincoln, MA
Highly individualized programs are designed to meet individual needs based on the most current research.  To maximize effectiveness and independent carryover of learned skills, we use therapy approaches that develop an individual's “meta-skills” and “executive function skills”. 

Institute for Learning & Development (ILD), Lexington, MA
New Technology Enhanced Metacognitive Strategies & Tools
Lexington based Research Institute for Learning and Development (Research ILD) has just received a significant grant to fund a new year-long pilot and research study to measure the efficacy of two of its innovative metacognitive and executive functioning software applications designed to help improve academic performance. (does not accept health insurance)

Hallowell Center, Sudbury, MA
The Hallowell Center provides a comprehensive approach to care. Our staff consists of a multi disciplinary team of psychiatrists, neuropsychologists, clinical psychologists, social workers, coaches, educators, and a nutritional consultant.  Has support groups, ADD Coaching, several treatment methods, etc. (does not accept health insurance)

Executive Function Coaches - Landmark College,  Putney, VT
Coaching Services provides a specific and unique type of support. They are designed for students who struggle with the various aspects of academic work production known as "executive functioning." These include:
• Planning and prioritizing;
• Organizing;
• Remembering to do intended tasks;
• Getting started;
• Sustaining motivation;
• Self-monitoring;
• Managing multiple tasks;
• Following through to completion.

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Executive Functioning can effective how students learn to read, write, and do math, refer to our web pages on Specialized teaching methods.

For a list of parent recommend tutors, in the areas of reading, writing, math, and executive functioning, see our web page.

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There are currently two Executive Function assessments on the market (more details can be found on our Type of Tests web page):
Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function(BRIEF) Consists of two rating forms - a Parent questionnaire and a Teacher Questionnaire
(84 questions) designed to assess executive functioning in the home and school environments.

Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System™ (D–KEFS) is a standardized set of tests to evaluate higher level cognitive functions in both children and adults.

No-cost Online Support for Executive Function Challenges, by Linda Hecker, Landmark College, Lead Education Specialist
The articles introduces four type free tools available on the internet: 
     1. Calendars: Google calendar
     2. To Do List: Todolist and Google Gadgets ToDo List
     3. Storing, organizing and collaboration on documents and informaiton: Google Docs, Dropbox, Evernotes and Personal Brain
     4. Research: CAST Strategy Tutor and Zotero Self-Help and White Noise: Habitforge, Zendesk and Readability

Executive Function fact sheet, by National Center of Learning Disabilities (NCLD)
Overview of Executive Function
Executive Functioning - What Is It and How Does It Affect Learning?
National Academy of Neuropsychology
Executive Functioning: Regulating Behavior for School Success, by By Dr. Sheldon H. Horowitz
The Realization and Utilization of Organization
What Are Executive Functions and Self-Regulation and What Do They Have to Do With Language Learning Disorders?
    by Dr. Bonnie Singer and Dr. Anthony S. Bashir
The development of executive function across the life span
Executive Functions in Parents With ADHD

Executive Function in Education: From Theory to Practice
by Lynn Meltzer, plus a whole list of researchers and practitioners from education, neuroscience, and psychology (2007)

Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents: A Practical Guide to Assessment and Intervention
by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare (2004)

One of our original web pages, created July 20, 2007, by Melody Orfei
Web page last modified on January 31, 2012 - V8, by Melody Orfei