Executive Functioning

What is Executive Functioning?

Executive function is a set of mental skills that include working memory, flexible thinking, and self-control. We use these skills every day to learn, work, and manage daily life. Trouble with executive function can make it hard to focus, follow directions, and handle emotions, among other things.

Some people describe executive function as “the management system of the brain.” That’s because the skills involved let us set goals, plan, and get things done. When people struggle with executive function, it impacts them at home, in school, and in life. There are three main areas of executive function.

1.Working memory

2.Cognitive flexibility (also called flexible thinking)

3.Inhibitory control (which includes self-control)

What Is Executive Function?

What is the impact of these difficulties?

Executive Functioning is responsible for many skills, including:

*Paying attention

*Organizing, planning, and prioritizing

*Starting tasks and staying focused on them to completion

*Understanding different points of view

*Regulating emotions

*Self-monitoring (keeping track of what you’re doing)

Trouble with executive function can affect people in different ways.

People struggling with executive skills may:

  • Have difficulty prioritizing tasks

  • Forget what they just heard or read

  • Have trouble following directions or a sequence of steps

  • Panic when rules or routines change

  • Have trouble switching focus from one task to another

  • Get overly emotional and fixate on things

  • Have trouble organizing their thoughts

  • Have trouble keeping track of their belongings

  • Have trouble managing their time

  • Have trouble starting and/or completing tasks

Enhancing and Practicing Executive Function Skills

Contact Us With Any Questions

Megan Stanley, Special Programs Instructional Coordinator