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SEN Weekly Blog

Executive Function – What’s that?

According to The OT Toolbox, Executive Function is a set of cognitive skills that manage our brains and bodies. This helps us process information, manage our time, pay attention, plan, remember information and details, stay on topic, and multitask.

When Executive Functioning skills do not work as well as they should, it can present in a vast variety of ways. Here are just a few examples:

· Talking out of turn or interrupting others

· Difficulty controlling emotions

· Unsafe behaviors

· Touching everything

Individuals with Executive Function challenges struggle to organise their thoughts and actions AND have trouble regulating their behaviors so that they can accomplish tasks.

Impulse control is an Executive Functioning skill that we need in order to complete every daily functional task. Here is a list of other skills that make up Executive Functioning:

· Impulse Control

· Working Memory

· Attention or Focus

· Task Initiation

· Task Completion

· Planning

· Organisation

· Prioritisation

· Self-Regulation or Self-Monitoring

· Foresight/Hindsight

· Cognitive Flexibility, including shifting thoughts and flexible thinking

These Executive Functioning skills are necessary to participate in daily tasks at home, school, work, and in the community. Knowing this may help you to understand why a child becomes overwhelmed by “simple” tasks.

Self-control plays a part in each of the Executive Functioning skills.

Self-control is related to planning, prioritising, time management, and persistence:

· When we are trying to plan a project, self-control allows us to stay on task.

· When we are attempting to understand different points of view, self-control allows us to keep thoughts in our mind.

· The list could go on…

So, how can we use self-regulation to improve Executive Function skills? Watch this space for my next post.