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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…

INITIATING ACTION
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

FLEXIBLE THINKING
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

SUSTAINING ATTENTION
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”

ORGANIZATION
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

PLANNING
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

WORKING MEMORY
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)

SELF-AWARENESS
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

REGULATING EMOTIONS
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.

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World’s Worst Boss

I love this post from Jen at Laughing at Chaos.   Executive Function: I hate this CEO.

A great description of the frustration of parenting a kid who has difficulty with Executive Function.  My frontal lobe hurts just thinking about it.

My First #gtchat

I participated in my first #gtchat on Twitter last Friday.  Gtchat is moderated by Deborah Mersino of www.ingeniosus.net.  Thanks Deborah!

Each Friday there are two hour-long interactive gtchats. Tweeters from all over the globe get together on Twitter to discuss different gifted topics.

I say I participated this week because I’ve lurked during gtchats in the past, but have been too shy to join in.  This week though, the topic was 2E or Twice Exceptional learners and I decided to jump in.

The tweets were fast and furious and I felt like I was always behind, but it was kinda cool to be in the same ‘room’ with some of the people behind the blogs I read.  It was also very comforting to hear from parents who are having the same experiences with their 2E kids.

I’ve read the transcript from the 2E chat several times now and I did miss a lot.  I’ll get the hang of the gtchats eventually and I plan to brush up at Deborah’s site www.ingeniosus.net/gtchat, but there were a lot of helpful resources mentioned during the chat.  I felt like I needed them all in the same place, so I could check them out at my own pace.  Thanks for all the great suggestions!

From @GiftedHF
Special Challenges/Twice Exceptional (2e)
Twice exceptional children are both gifted and have learning differences, resulting in an extreme asynchrony that can increase parenting challenges exponentially. Some of these exceptionalities may include autism or Asperger’s Syndrome; auditory and visual processing disorders; dyslexia and dysgraphia; sensory integration dysfunction; ADD or ADHD; bipolar disorder; OCD; Tourette’s Syndrome; and myriad other dual diagnoses. Some families have found ways to deal with the challenges in their family that make their homes run relatively smoothly; others describe their family lives as akin to “the bar scene from Star Wars.”
http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/2eresources.html

http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/articles.html#challenge

From @Idaho2e
Download 2E Manual
http://www.sde.idaho.gov/site/gifted_talented/twice-exceptional/

From @DavidsonGifted
Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults/Davidson Institute for Talent Development
http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10308.aspx
Tips for Parents: Executive Functioning at Home and School-Aimee Yermish/Davidson Institute for Talent Development
http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10523.aspx

From @HoagiesGifted
http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/twice_exceptional.htm

http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/2e_books.htm

From @2eNewsletter
http://2enewsletter.blogspot.com/

From @GiftedDevCenter
http://www.gifteddevelopment.com/What_is_Gifted/2echildren.htm

From @LesLinks
http://innreach.wordpress.com/2es/

From @JoFrei
http://www.giftedresources.org/gr/webgifgld.htm

From @CybraryMan1
http://cybraryman.com/2e.html

From @BelinBlank
http://www.education.uiowa.edu/belinblank/clinic/nite.aspx

From @SENG_Gifted

Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted

http://www.sengifted.org/

Other online resources-
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_functions

http://www.gifted.uconn.edu/nrcgt/newsletter/spring98/sprng984.html

Does you gifted child have ADD/ADHD?
http://www.addvance.com/help/parents/gifted_child.html

Twice Exceptional Adult Learners
 http://mysite.du.edu/~tmille47/Twice_Exceptional/Forward.html

Understanding Your Child’s Puzzling Behavor
http://lifespanpress.blogspot.com/

Gifted/LD facts
http://www.ldinfo.com/gifted_ld.htm

Executive Function
http://www.ldinfo.com/executive_functioning.htm

http://www.tagfam.org/


Books-
Book-To Be Gifted and Learning Disabled: From Definitions to Practical Intervention Strategies
Book-Different Minds: Gifted Children With Ad/Hd, Asperger Syndrome, and Other Learning Deficits [Paperback]
Book-Misdiagnosis And Dual Diagnoses Of Gifted Children And Adults: ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger’s, Depression, And Other Disorders
Book-To Be Gifted and Learning Disabled: From Definitions to Practical Intervention Strategies

Countdown to MY Summer Vacation from School

1 week to go and I will be free! (temporarily)— free from the work it takes to get Lily through school every day. Her ADHD & difficulties with Executive Function have made her first year of middle school extremely difficult for her and for me.  The organizational demands of 6th grade have been overwhelming for her and I’ve been acting as her Executive Function support and scaffolding all year.

At least for the next couple of months… I’ll be free from the torture of nagging Lily to get ready for school.  Getting her out of the house–on timeevery day is a major feat.  So, at least for the summer… no reminding, over and over again.  No fighting.  No frustration. No yelling. No tears. And that’s just the morning.

I won’t have to try to figure out every night what homework she has to do, when it’s due, if she’s done it and/or if she’s turned it in.  I won’t have to check the Parent Portal to find out what assignments she has missing. No hurrying through dinner and showers to try to get Lily settled down enough to fall asleep at a decent hour.  We can enjoy summer evenings on our porch, watching the sun set behind the mountains, while the kids goof around and I guzzle a box of wine.  GUZZLE-to drink especially liquor greedily, continually, or habitually

This has been the hardest school year for me since Lily started Kindergarten.  The extreme effort it takes to try to keep this ADHD/2E kid caught up on her assignments seems to be never ending and exhausting.  

Lily is tired too.  She desperately needs time to just play and explore and exercise, after being cooped up at school, forced into a rigid environment that emphasizes her weaknesses, instead of her strengths.

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