Executive Function

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When you get a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder (in any of it’s forms) you might also find out that you have poor executive functioning.

Executive function refers to the brain’s ability to manage more than one thing at a time.

Think of yourself as a large company with many functions and departments. Your brain is the department in charge of running things and your executive function is the manager.

If the manager does his job poorly, the whole company is affected.

Executive function controls things like:

    Planning and anticipation
    Staying focused
    Organization, including organizing your thoughts
    Completing tasks
    Managing unstructured situations
    Adjusting to changes in routine
    Managing emotions

Dr. Russell Barkley, a noted professional in the field, has described poor executive function as “actions we perform to ourselves and direct at ourselves so as to accomplish self-control, goal-directed behavior, and the maximization of future outcomes.”

Any of this sounding familiar?

Poor executive function explains things like bright students barely getting by in school and the state of ADD Moms homes.

There are some things that you can do to help improve the areas of your life affected by poor executive function.

Putting systems in place for things that you do often will help, as will learning to develop good habits. Find a planner that works for you and use it. Be especially diligent about scheduling to do’s into your calendar. (Hint: The ADD Moms Lifeskills Planner is a good choice.)

ADD Students will benefit greatly from learning skills to work around their poor executive function skills, and their parents will benefit from understanding more about it.

Chris Dendy has an excellent article on her website about this, along with lots of suggestions. I also highly recommend her book.

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Lacy Estelle

Lacy Estelle is the writer of Lacyestelle.com and the Podcast host for An ADD Woman.

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