Executive functioning refers to a set of skills. These mental skills helps us organize our thoughts and activities, prioritize tasks, manage our time more efficiently, stay focused despite distractions, amongst others.
If an individual has trouble with executive function, it can make it very hard to focus, follow directions, handle emotions amongst other things.
Executive functioning and ADHD usually go hand in hand, however some individuals who do not have ADHD can also struggle with executive functioning.
Some signs of executive dysnfuction:
- Losing or forgetting important items on a regular basis
- Getting distracted and/or jumping around to different aspects of the task
- Stuggling to meet deadlines that you set up yourself or others have set up
- Rushing into things to get them done as quickly as possible
- Forgetting when others ask you to do something
- Difficulty learning alternate ways of doing things, paths or routes
Executive Function Wheel
Many human behaviors occur without conscious thought such as breathing, sleeping or stepping out of the way of an oncoming car. Many others, however, rely on executive function. Executive function is not as simple as a single operation. Instead, it is a set of mental processes that enable us to manage our daily lives. Together, these skills allow us to do many things such as planning ahead of time, manage and regulate our emotions and impluses, pay attention to a task in hand, etc. Some of the fundamental skills that are associated with executive function are:
How do I tackle executive dysfunction?
No one is born with executive function skills, but they can be learned and improved! Executive function skills are developed in early childhood and into teen years, however they can keep on developing until the mid 20’s. When kids are younger, some might have a little bit more difficulty with some skills than others, however the good news is that we can help children and teens recognize, improve and work around their areas of executive dysfunction.
If you want more support working towards improving executive functioning, check out these worksheets I created!