“Unlike most questions you probably get about specific issues like how to improve reading or memory, my son has a combination of problems and I can’t figure out if they are related to each other and in any case what to do. He’s very disorganized AND finds it impossible to plan ahead for anything AND never puts any plans he does make into action. I don’t mean he’s lazy or unmotivated. It’s like his brain just isn’t wired for this kind of thing. The problem is he is required to think, plan, and accomplish many things all day every day. I’m frustrated but not as much as he is becoming. Suggestions?”
First, a multiple-choice question. Which of the following brain activities is MOST important for you to help your child develop: a) thinking about a problem; b) planning, organizing, and implementing a solution; c) keeping track of progress; d) making changes as needed; or e) evaluating its success? If you said, “F, all of the above,” you are correct! In terms of the brain’s thinking process, this combination of skills is currently known as Executive Functioning.
If you haven’t heard of Executive Functioning yet, just wait. It’s the newest buzz phrase in both psychology and education. But, like Attention Deficit Disorder, Learning Disability, and Giftedness in the past, parents (and many professionals) are quickly learning just enough to be utterly confused by the unnecessarily complicated terminology and explanations currently available.
There is so much useful information in this area, we once wrote a six-part series to inform parents, teachers, counselors, and other interested parties how to recognize symptoms of problems with Executive Functioning, testing options, program recommendations such as computer “games” that can improve Executive Functioning, what teachers and schools can do, what you can do at home, and how others may help if needed. Not a subject easily summarized!
As with other problems as well as talents, occasional glitches can occur with each of the five aspects of Executive Functioning described above as a result of temporary stress or something else and, in fact, may be normal for some ages or situations. Or, it can be a significant hidden block to learning. TLC’s testing can offer specific answers followed by specific guidance on recommendations suited to your specific child’s strengths and needs. That’s the good news! Finding out the details of your child’s Executive Functioning is one more way to help prepare today for success tomorrow.