This is an elusive disorder and professionals often don’t agree on all the identifying hallmarks.  Nevertheless, there are some commonalities that may indicate that an individual has an Executive Function Disorder. 

A workable definition of Executive Function Disorder is that when tested individually, cognitive skills are fairly strong.  But when it is necessary to marshal several different skills to work together to complete a task, things fall apart.  I’ve given cognitive skills assessments to many individuals.  The tests usually focus on one cognitive skill at a time:  short-term memory, long-term memory, processing speed, etc.  There are some individuals that do well on the tests that isolate one area.  It’s when they are required to use many skills at the same time, or keep track of several different items, that the trouble emerges.

Take a car engine, for instance.  When tested individually, the battery is strong, the radiator works as it should, the carburetor is fine; all the individual parts work as they should.  But for some reason, when the car is supposed to get you from point A to point B, it’s not efficient.  That’s an analogy for Executive Function Disorder.

So it’s entirely possible for a child to be able to perform all the reading benchmarks well, because the tests isolate one reading skill (auditory processing, word attack, sight word knowledge, rhyming, etc.) and still have trouble reading, since that is the act of using all the skills efficiently.   They may be able to perform the individual steps necessary to solve a long division problem; divide, multiply, subtract, repeat, but not able to carry through those steps when required to use them together and in a particular order.

Most prevalent in those diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, it can occur in neurotypical individuals also. 

Some things to watch for include:

  • Reading difficulty when fall and spring testing indicate they should be able to read better
  • Able to spell words correctly on spelling test, not in written work
  • Trouble handling multi-step problems and directions
  • Difficulty getting started on a bigger project (long-term school project, cleaning their rooms)
  • Difficulty self-monitoring (talks during class, interrupts during a conversation, blurts)
  • Has difficulty maintaining day-to-day tasks (bringing home items necessary for homework completion, failure to return homework to school, doesn’t remember to do homework).
  • Difficulty prioritizing tasks (what homework should be tackled first, next, completing chores)
  • Difficulty regulating emotions.
  • Difficulty maintaining focus long enough to complete a task.

If you are seeing any symptoms mentioned above or are concerned that you or your child is struggling with learning or life, give Metro Learning Solutions a call.  Because we test the seven areas the brain uses to think, read, remember, and process information efficiently, it takes about an hour and can reveal any weak areas that may be holding you or your child back. 

As always, please call if you would like more information.

Metro Learning Solutions   515-523-0980 nancy@metrolearningsolutions.com

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