Monthly Archives: May 2012
My EF Idol
I recently attended a workshop on Executive Function given by Sarah Ward, M.S., CCC/SLP of The Center for Executive Function Skill Development. She is amazing. I also attended her workshop last fall and was blown away. Amazing practical strategies! Tons of helpful information to absorb and implement.
When I heard Sarah Ward was coming to town again, I knew I had to attend.
I remember the first time I heard about Executive Function. We had taken Lily to our Children’s Hospital for a psych eval and they had me fill out the BRIEF, the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function. That was a revelation. Almost every question described Lily.
Suddenly, it clicked. This is why she never turns in her field trip permission slips, never knows what homework she has, doesn’t want to start on it, is the only kid who doesn’t know that this is Spirit Week and today is Crazy Hair Day? This is why we have to explain what’s going to happen next all day long so she doesn’t have a meltdown, why the smallest change in plans makes her freak out or why everything makes her freak out?
Her scores showed that Lily had clinically significant executive function problems, which can be common with ADHD. That’s when I started my quest to find out more about helping her learn executive function skills and also, unfortunately, began my struggle to explain executive function issues to her school district.
Abridged Executive Controls Skills Checklist (a handout from the workshop)
Compared to peers, this child…
Begins homework/jobs with little or no prompting
Devises solutions to solvable problems; doesn’t just ‘hope they’ll go away’
Sets a specific time to act (Says “I’ll do it after school”, & does)
Independently pursues hobbies and activities of personal interest
Can analyze a situation from multiple perspectives before taking action
Able to have fun with available toys/diversions
Can adjust to a typical behavior in a friend (“Justin’s grumpy because he’s sick”)
Transition times rarely incite tantrums/excessive anxiety
Can adequately block distractions when needed
Can tolerate boring or repetitive activities
Can read a book or listen to one being read
Doesn’t make you feel rushed to finish a conversation before s/he “spaces out”
Consistently brings all homework/school notices home
Keeps personal belongings organized and accessible
Bedroom basically neat; messes confined, not “chaotic”
Uses school book bag/locker effectively
Is rarely short of time to complete projects
Is able to coordinate multi-step projects in order, i.e. draw, cut, paste
Considers consequences of actions
Notices factors that could impact plans, i.e. checks weather before dressing
Able to retain information long enough to apply it to new learning challenges
Can remember and talk about what was learned in school that day
Recalls procedural steps, doesn’t ‘stare blankly’ when asked to ‘get started’
Is comfortable accepting ‘memory responsibilities’ (i.e. chores, dues, projects)
Picks up on important social cues such as taking turns during play with peers
Uses appropriate vocal volume in conversation
Rarely ‘crosses over the line’ of acceptable behavior
Accurately attributes the reactions of others to his/her own behavior
Able to shrug off or quickly recover from minor disappointments
Seldom overreacts to words or behavior of peers
Able to use imagination, reason or logic to cope with adversity
Emotions do not overwhelm reasoning skills or impair problem-solving
Excerpted from No Mind Left Behind: Understanding and Fostering Executive Control-The Eight Essential Brain Skills Every Child Needs To Thrive.