10 Exercises and Strategies to Help with Executive Function Disorder

10 Exercises and Strategies to Help with Executive Function Disorder

Have you been diagnosed with executive function disorder?

Individuals who have abnormal executive function symptoms may feel frustrated, alone, and misunderstood. Many people don’t yet comprehend this disorder, including some professionals who work in the medical and behavioral health industry.

Executive function disorder often gets lumped into the same category as Attention Deficit Disorder. And, while the two do share some similarities, there are also traits which distinguish them from one another.

Learning how to cope with executive dysfunction symptoms can be vital for individuals who struggle with symptoms.

Read on to learn 10 strategies and exercises to help you deal effectively with executive function disorder!

What Is Executive Function Disorder?

According to statistics, 90% of people with ADHD exhibit symptoms of executive function disorder.

However, one doesn’t need to have symptoms of both disorders to have executive function disorder. It’s possible to have either one of these diagnoses or the other, without having both diagnoses simultaneously.

Executive function disorder is the inability to organize and regulate behavior to achieve long-term goals.

Executive functioning refers to the cognitive and mental abilities to engage in goal-directed action. When an individual is impaired in this area, they have trouble with planning, problem-solving, self-restraint, self-awareness, and retaining memory.

Individuals with executive functioning impairment often have trouble fulfilling their day-to-day responsibilities.

They may find that school, work, and other regular daily activities pose an extraordinary challenge when comparing their efforts with others.

10 Exercises & Strategies to Assist With Abnormal Executive Functioning

If you struggle with symptoms of executive function disorder, there are some exercises and strategies that might help.

1. Maintain a Daily To-Do List

Many people, even those with normal executive functioning, can benefit from keeping a list of daily tasks that they must meet. However, for individuals with executive function disorder, a daily to-do list is practically essential.

Make a habit of beginning each day with a list of priorities. Include a list of immediate things to do, as well as things that need your attention in the near future.

Your daily to-do list will help you to stay on track throughout the day and ensure that you are taking care of your most important responsibilities.

As you complete each task, you may want to check or cross the item off your list. This will provide a visual aid of your daily accomplishments, and might also encourage you as you move from task to task.

2. Take Notes

Always keep a pen and notebook in hand.

This strategy comes in handy when you attend doctor appointments or meetings. But, it can also be a useful tool when you are alone. Whenever you think of something you need to remember, write it down.

For many people who struggle with executive function disorder, keeping up with a notebook is easier than keeping track of their own thoughts.

3. Plan Ahead

Mapping out a plan for the month, week, and day is a must-do.

Keep a calendar posted where it is visible to remind you of important dates and appointments throughout the month. Then, use a day-planner to track your week. Include your bills, as well as phone calls and emails to return or send.

The more that you can remind yourself of important tasks, the less likely you will be to forget them. And, this is a huge fear, and struggle area, for those with executive function disorder.

4. Wrap Up Each Day With a Daily Review

At the end of each day, conduct a daily review. This will help you succinctly wrap up the day, as well as plan for the next.

If you have any items that need your immediate attention, make a note to remind you to prioritize these items.

5. Be Accountable

According to research, maintaining regular accountability to another person can increase our odds of successfully reaching our goals to 95%.

While the percentile might be slightly lower for those with an executive functioning disorder, the principle remains the same.

Choose someone who you trust to share your goals.

Not only will you feel more challenged to meet your goals, but an accountability partner can also serve to remind you of important events and due-dates that you might otherwise forget.

6. Set Reminders

Whether you choose to use a phone alarm, a timer, or another device, it can be helpful to give yourself some sort of reminder throughout your day.

You may correlate your schedule with alarms to help you stay on track. This can even be a productive way of reminding you when it’s time to change tasks as you go on with your day.

7. Give Yourself Plenty of Time

Time-management tends to be a problem for those with executive function disorder.

You can help remedy your struggle against the clock by giving yourself plenty of time to prepare for upcoming items on your daily itinerary.

8. Practice Makes Perfect

Although perfect may be a stretch, practice certainly doesn’t hurt. Role-playing prior to important conversations and meetings can help to prepare you for when the time arrives.

9. Meditate

When you start your day, or when you are feeling overwhelmed, meditation can help you to center your mind.

Deep-breathing and meditation exercises can be monumental when we feel anxious or forgetful.

If you begin to feel angst creeping in, take a moment to re-center and balance yourself. Then, you can re-emerge with a more focused, calm state of mind to complete your day.

10. Ask For Help When You Need It

Sometimes, the best thing to do is to ask for help. When you feel like you are incapable or unable to tackle the tasks at hand, a little encouragement from another person can go a long way.

Before letting things reel out of control, reach out to another friend, family or co-worker for help. Often times, they are more than happy to help you get back to where you need to be.

Need Help Managing Your Symptoms?

If you’re managing symptoms of executive function disorder, we can help.

Contact us today for help with abnormal executive functioning!

How You Can Improve Executive Functioning Skills in Kids with ADHD

How You Can Improve Executive Functioning Skills in Kids with ADHD

Children with ADHD struggle with their impulse control. They can often be disorganized and struggle with following any tasks that are made up of many steps. This can translate into problems at school, affect friendships and harm their career prospects in the longer term.

The technical term for the skills they are lacking is executive functioning skills; sometimes just called executive function or executive skills. These skills are important for a successful and independent life. So how can we help our children master these?

What Are Executive Functioning Skills?

Executive Functioning Skills are related to self-regulation. These are the skills that help with planning, focus, recollecting the steps in a complicated process, and coping with having multiple things to do at the same time.

These skills are vital to organizing yourself, which becomes more important as children get older and are expected to manage more of their lives. Poor executive skills lead to forgotten or late homework, getting lost in school, and forgetting social engagements. If you think your child might have an executive functioning problem, more signs of the disorder are outlined in this article.

The good news is that improving executive function is possible. With a combination of executive functioning interventions, to make life easier, and executive functioning skills training, you can help your child to do more for themselves.

How to Improve Executive Function

Teaching executive functioning skills is something that can be done at any age and can continue through until adulthood. While these skills may not come naturally to a child with ADHD or some other learning disorders, they can be acquired and coping strategies can be adopted to help set your child up for success.

These exercises work to improve performance in three areas that are important for executive function; working memory, impulse control, and cognitive flexibility. Working memory helps with retaining the different steps needed to complete a task. Impulse control is what stops a child doing something they know they shouldn’t. Cognitive flexibility is the ability to change mental gears quickly.

Games for Toddlers

Pat-a-cake and other songs and rhymes help babies to develop their working memory. As the songs are repeated, so they learn what to expect. Songs with a surprise ending, such as ‘Round and round the garden,’ which ends with a tickle are particularly well received.

Copying games help with impulse control. If you can come up with a game, for example, taking turns to put toy animals into a zoo scene helps them to master self-control.

Younger Children

Usually, it is when children get to school that challenges with executive function are noticed. But this is also a great time to begin interventions. For example, storytelling can be a powerful tool in helping children to improve their working memory and cognitive flexibility.

Telling a story, or recalling what happened in their day so far, means that they need to get events in order and tell them in a logical fashion. If you tell a story together, taking it in turns to decide what comes next, you are working on both impulse control too.

To help with focus, play a version of musical statues where the pose of the statue is agreed ahead of time. Get the children dancing to fast music, then when it stops they have to concentrate in order to stop and get into the same pose as the statue very quickly.

Older Children

Board games and card games are helpful as children get older. Taking turns helps to improve impulse control, and the need to remember the rules; for example, what happens when you land on a snake or a ladder and apply them correctly challenges their working memory.

Sport and other physical activity can be useful too. Not only does it burn off some energy, but it also gives your child the opportunity to work together. That helps them with working memory and cognitive flexibility. Perhaps more importantly, it can improve social relationships and self-confidence, too. If your child isn’t sporty, don’t worry. The same is true of learning to play an instrument or singing in a choir.

At this age, some children begin using a smartphone or tablet computer more often. There are many apps available which can help to work on executive function.

Teenagers

As children grow up to become teenagers, it’s important to start supporting them to develop their own skills rather than trying to do things for them. When they go to college or get a job, you won’t be able to support them in the same way that you have done through their time in school.

Learning organizational skills can be done by working on a practical project. Choose something your child would like to achieve, whether that is college applications or a party for their birthday. Work with them on the plans, but try and let them take the lead. Only nudge when you really need to make sure that things happen.

Older children can be encouraged to ‘self-talk’ when they are struggling with impulse control. In a way, they act as their own parent. When faced with temptation, they mentally explain to themselves why following that impulse is a bad idea. Explaining this process and encouraging your child to find their own way to implement it can be very powerful.

Sport, music and other group activities remain important for this age group. The teen years can be very confusing and isolating, so helping your child to find their clan whether that’s the football team, the cinema club or something else entirely is really useful.

How We Can Help

Speech and Language disorders often go hand in hand with ADHD, and speech therapy can be a valuable part of the process in dealing with this. But if the thought of packing more appointments into your week gives you a headache, you’ll be glad to know that online speech therapy is just as effective as face to face work.

If you have any questions about how we can help you and your child, with executive functioning skills or anything else, please get in touch today.

7 Signs Your Child Might Have an Executive Functioning Disorder, online speech therapy for kids

7 Signs Your Child Might Have an Executive Functioning Disorder

Over 4.6 million school-aged children have been diagnosed with some kind of a learning disability.

But when your child is one of those millions, it can feel like your world has turned completely upside-down. Perhaps you know that something isn’t quite right with your child’s learning and processing abilities, but you’re struggling to get the correct diagnoses.

If you suspect that your child may have an executive functioning disorder, we know that you want answers.

In this post, we’ll define these disorders, discuss the common symptoms, and let you know how you can help them.

What Is An Executive Functioning Disorder?

Before we get into some of the most common signs of an executive functioning disorder (EFD,) let’s first make sure you’re clear on what it is.

In a nutshell, it’s when a child has a hard time meeting “deadlines,” being on time, making and keeping plans, multitasking, and even with more basic organizational skills.

For example, a child with an EFD might struggle to finish a test or complete an assignment on time. They may frequently lose or leave their homework elsewhere, or they may even struggle to take proper notes during class.

Essentially, children with EFD have difficulty understanding both how much time it takes to complete a task and the steps that need to be taken in order to get it done. They will likely also face challenges when it comes to adapting to changes in plans, or thinking on their feet.

If your child has another learning disability, like ADHD or dyslexia, then they may be more likely to have an EFD.

While there has not yet been an accepted cause of EFDs, many learning professionals and scientists believe that these issues may be hereditary. There may also be developmental issues in the prefrontal cortex of your child’s brain.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the most common symptoms of an executive functioning disorder.

1. An Inability To Multitask

Do you notice that your child struggles to do more than one thing at once?

Do they begin one activity, only to abandon it without completion in favor of another?

Do they often forget the first part of instructions, or seem to struggle to focus when there’s too much going on?

If so, they may struggle with an EFD.

2. Struggles To Make Choices

While problems with decision-making skills are common in most children, those with an EFD will seriously struggle to definitely choose one thing or another.

They may say that they want to do one activity, only to change their minds again two minutes later. When faced with a choice, they may become deeply angry or sad, and perhaps even deal with feelings of guilt.

Other times, you may notice that your child seems to “do nothing” when faced with the possibility of having to make a firm decision.

3. Loses Track Of Time

If you’re often filled with anxiety because your child is late, or even filled with frustration because they just can’t seem to manage your time?

Then your child may have an EFD.

Your child will likely also struggle to remember their own schedule, and may become confused about the length of tasks or even where they’re supposed to be at a certain time.

You may find that your child’s concept of time is markedly different than most children’s. They may seem to have trouble understanding the difference between ten minutes and an hour, or that tasks take them much longer to complete than is normal.

4. Frequently Forgets Schoolbooks And Work

Do you feel like you spend half of your time transporting forgotten books and assignments to your child’s school?

Even if you remind your child to put something in their bag the night before and the morning of, do you still find they forget it?

Has your child forgotten about a book report or another assignment altogether, or seems to always wait until the night before it’s due to start it?

If so, then they may have an executive functioning disorder.

5. They Have Trouble Explaining Things

Maybe you’ve tried to talk to your child about some of the symptoms we’ve described — but you’ve noticed that they can’t express themselves well.

It’s not that your child is unintelligent — it’s just that sometimes, it seems as though they struggle to process their emotions and put things into words.

They may even have a hard time speaking clearly.

They may often end a discussion in the middle of a sentence without seeming to realize it, or they may withdraw into themselves in silence for a long period of time.

6. They Get Lost

This is a symptom that usually appears in older children, especially when they’re old enough to be out on their own.

You may notice that your child seriously struggles to remember how to get to even familiar places, like your home or their school. They may often call you asking for help with directions, and they may have challenges understanding the directions you give them or even reading maps.

How Can You Help Your Child?

If any of these symptoms sound familiar, then we strongly suggest making an appointment with a learning specialist to determine whether or not your child has an executive functioning disorder.

We know that, as a parent, you’re willing to do anything and everything that it takes to help your child succeed and feel confident in themselves.

Meeting with one of our specialists might be the answer you’re looking for.

We’ll help your child to stay on task, strengthen their language skills, find new ways to communicate with them that benefit their unique needs, and much more.

Get in touch with us today to schedule a free consultation, and put your child on the road to success and happiness.

ADHD teens

Sometimes Skills are as Effective as Pills

Is your son’s desk a disaster?

Has your daughter’s teacher mentioned she has trouble focusing in class?

You may have seen subtle signs in your child suggesting ADD or ADHD. Sometimes I think our culture of multi-tasking and the constant barrage of text messages is a factor in our inability to concentrate. But while you are checking out the right professional to help you explore the origins and scope of the behavior in question, there are skills you can reinforce at home which can improve behavior and concentration. While medication ultimately may be required, pills are only effective when taken. Skills on the other hand, last a lifetime.

Here are some of my favorite organizational skills:

  • Create a designated quiet and organized environment for schoolwork. Have supplies available and keep distractions to a minimum.
  • Introduce the process of time management. Discuss together when projects are due and create a timeline to keep your child on track.
  • Use a timer and have your child work in blocks of time, with built-in breaks designated at the end of each block. The amount of block time will vary with each child as will the type of activity you can encourage each child to do during their break. Some kids need a physical activity while others may need to respond to texts or emails.
  • Demonstrate helpful organization skills like writing assignments in a designated agenda or pad and crossing off (or highlighting) assignments that are completed. The satisfaction of seeing a page of highlighted tasks can be a reward in itself.
  • Reward organizational efforts! Never underestimate the power of positive reinforcement.Even simple praise can be effective.

What Gr8 organizational skills have you found helpful? Let’s share and learn from each other!