Challenges with Executive Functioning

Challenges with Executive Functioning

Executive functioning involves a set of skills that assist your child in completing tasks. These skills enable your child to manage themselves and their resources to achieve specific goals. Executive functioning is an umbrella term for several specific abilities, including the abilities to:

  • Analyze the task at hand
  • Plan a course of action
  • Organize what is needed to complete the task
  • Develop a timeframe for the task to be completed
  • Adjust the plan of action if needed
  • Monitor one’s own performance
  • Complete a task in a given timeframe

For most children these steps come easily and, depending on the task, may only take a few seconds to complete. However, if your child has difficulty with planning, organizing information, or completing a task within a timely manner, he may have difficulty with executive functioning skills.

Possible Signs of Executive Functioning Challenges

Some of the signs that a child may be having issues with executive functioning skills include:

  • Inability to complete age-appropriate tasks , or to complete them in a reasonable timeframe.
  • Difficulty telling sequenced stories verbally or in writing.
  • Easily and consistently forgets items, such as books or homework at school and/or home.
  • Difficulty with organizing materials.
  • Trouble following directions, even simple and routine ones.
  • Difficulty communicating and remembering details.
  • Unable to predict how much time a particular activity will take, even if they have completed it several times before.
  • Trouble with transitions and switching focus.

Treatment Options

All children are born with the potential to develop executive functioning skills; however, some children might need more scaffolding in how to best assess their skills. Specialized therapy and tutoring can provide your child with the skills and tools to help them be successful in school and at home. By proving tools, tips, and resources, a therapist or tutor with specialized training can teach your child skills in time management, organization, and ways to practice executive functioning skills with any appropriate individualized scaffolding. If you believe your child may have challenges with their executive functioning skills, contact your doctor or pediatrician to set up an evaluation. Early intervention is important for your child to be successful.

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Challenges with Executive Functioning
Shandy Marso, Contributor & Dr. Catherine Funk, PhD

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