Executive Function: Our air traffic control system
Executive functions are a set of cognitive processes that help us to manage our behaviors and achieve our goals.
Currently, weaknesses in executive functions are not considered a learning disability or disorder. However, most kids with ADHD and some with learning disorders do have difficulties with executive functions, and these issues can greatly impact a child's ability to learn in school, socialize with peers, and participate in family activities.
Some of the main areas of executive weakness involve working memory, flexible thinking, and self-control. Kids with these difficulties may have difficulty paying attention, staying organized, finishing tasks, and regulating their behavior and emotions.
While we don't know all the reasons why these issues occur in some kids, imaging studies have shown that slower development of the brain's frontal lobe may be a contributing factor. If a child is displaying executive function deficits, a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation can help caregivers understand the exact areas of weakness and lay the groundwork for an IEP or 504 plan for academic supports and accommodations. Executive function coaching can also be helpful in building and refining skills to help with organization and self-management.