Bright, intelligent people who have difficulties with executive functions (also called executive dysfunction) can have problems with their life that don’t match their general intelligence. They can appear disorganized and have difficulty planning. They can fail to notice other people’s perspectives and not notice when they communicate poorly. They struggle with starting and completing projects and they often forget what they have been asked to do. Executive functions are crucial for effective listening and communication. When they don’t work well, life can be very difficult, even for bright children and adults.
A client can expect to leave the program with tools which allow for an increased ability in organization, planning, communication completing tasks and focusing.
- Working Memory – the ability to hold onto information in order to process it. This includes the ability to identify the main point, take all information into account, and tell a cohesive story in a logical sequence. A functional working memory is needed for reading comprehension and following instructions.
- Inhibition – the ability to contain the desire to do something in order to stay on task until it is finished. This includes staying focused long enough to complete a task, and thinking through problem solving. When talking, it includes the ability to stay on a topic and avoiding ‘going off on tangents’ when telling a story.
- Planning and Organizing – the ability to plan and organize time, information and procedures effectively and efficiently. This includes carrying out instructions accurately, and completing tasks on time and correctly without procrastinating. It also included creating and maintaining order in the work/home environment.
- Multi-tasking – the ability to carry out more than one cognitive (thinking) process at a time. This includes being able to do an action whilst talking.
- Emotional Control – the ability to control escalating emotions in order to complete a task and keep emotions to a level that is appropriate.
- Focus and Energy Management – the ability to alter one’s energy levels according to the task at hand. This includes being able to sit and listen to a lecture or complete a project without daydreaming or feeling the need to get up and move. It also includes the ability to plan ahead and prevent actions that may result in negative consequences.
- Initiating – getting started on a task, including knowing where to start and what to do next. This includes talking, telling a story, writing tasks and projects.
- Shifting Focus – the ability to flexibly transition or shift attention if something changes. This includes being able to change how something is being done (when asked), and being able to see multiple possible solutions to a problem. It also includes evaluating a situation and predicting its outcome.
- Self-Monitoring – being mindful, recognizing when a change is needed, and noticing when an error occurs. This includes staying on a topic when talking, noticing changes of topics in groups, and answering questions accurately. It is the thinking process that allows us to see when we have made a mistake, such as with spelling errors or punctuation in written work. It also involves being relatively accurate in our judgment of our own and others’ behavior.
- Abstract Thinking – being able to understand non-verbal communication including the way we get our message across apart from the words we use – such as tone of voice, body language and facial gestures.
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