Executive Functions

 

EF is a set of mental processes that helps us connect past experience with present action. We use our EF when we perform such activities as planning, organizing, and paying attention to and remembering details.  Our ability to manage time, organize paperwork, and numerous other day to day responsibilities are impacted by our executive functions.  Problems with executive function may be manifested if you have difficulty:

•    planning, organizing and managing time and space
•    comprehending how much time a project will take to complete
•    communicating details (verbally or writing) in an organized, sequential manner
•    with the mental strategies involved in memorization and retrieving information from memory
•    initiating activities or tasks, switching tasks, or generating ideas independently
•    with memorization and retrieving information from memory
•    showing the inability to control emotions
•    showing the inability to filter comments or responses

Examples of Executive Function Skills

1.  Planning and Prioritization – The ability to create a plan or steps to reach a goal and to make decisions about what to focus on.

2.  Time Management – The skill of estimating the amount of time allotted, necessary, and remaining for completion of a deadline

3.  Organization – the ability to establish and maintain systems to keep track of information and materials

4.  Goal-directed persistence – the capacity to create and complete steps necessary to accomplish a goal, and further to not be lead off target by distractions

5.  Sustained Attention – the ability to maintain attention despite distractions

6.  Response Inhibition – The ability to stop one’s behavior at the appropriate time, including stopping actions and thoughts

7.  Working Memory – The ability to hold information in the mind for the purpose of completing a task

8.  Metacognition – The ability to look at yourself from above, “how successful am I and what can I do better?  This is also self-monitoring – the ability to monitor and evaluate your own performance

9.  Emotional Control – The ability to manage feelings by thinking about goals and to modulate emotional responses with rational thought to bear on feelings.

10.  Flexibility – the ability to change strategies or revise plans when conditions change.  The ability to face unknown challenges, overcome obstacles, and master new information

11.  Task Initiation – the ability to begin a task or activity and to independently generate ideas, responses, or problem-solving strategies.  You know when it is time to get started & not procrastinate.

As the brain matures, a person's executive function abilities are shaped by both physical changes in the brain and by life experiences, in the classroom and in the world at large. Attention to developing efficient skills in this area consists of: defining the problem, outlining a set of steps to follow, practicing or cueing the procedure with explicit feedback and positive reinforcement.

 

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