The term Executive Functions, didn't really enter my world until I was well into being a Speech Pathologist. I don't recall it being explained in Grad School, and I don't remember anyone training me to work on it with my clients. But boy does keep coming up! So at some point, I decided to learn about it. To be fair, it's been 15 years since I was in Grad School, so I'm sure things have changed. Here is a quick definition from The National Institute of Health:
The term executive functions refers to a constellation of cognitive abilities that enable and drive adaptive, goal-oriented behavior. These include the ability to generate thought and think flexibly, to update and manipulate information mentally, to inhibit what is irrelevant to current goals, to self-monitor, and to plan and adjust behavior as appropriate to the present context.
Executive Functions include:
Planning and Prioritizing
Daily living requires us to be able to think critically with flexibility in a large variety of situations. When these 8 functions are not in tact, you can imagine the troubles that can arise for an individual. On small scale, we all know how it feels to have a day when our memory just seems off, or we can't seem to focus on prioritizing the tasks for the day. But on a more severe level, people who have what's called Executive Dysfunction, can struggle in school, have difficulty making friends, and can sometimes develop negative behaviors due to insecurities in social and academically challenging situations.
Concerned you or someone you know may struggle with this?
Professionals like Speech Pathologists, Educational Therapists, and others are trained to test and treat individuals with Executive Dysfunction. Start by looking into getting a comprehensive evaluation to assess areas of strengths and weakness. Once you have such results, you can find the right type of therapy or tutoring to improve executive functions.
For those of you in the Orange County area of CA, I've worked closely with the Education Therapists at Center for Learning, who specialize in helping children improve executive functions for better academic performance. C4L's Psychologists are equipped to provide an in-depth evaluation and supports for putting together a great action plan.