If a child has Executive Functioning Disorder or delays, it does not mean that all the skills and tasks are negatively impacted. A child may be delayed in one skill or all skills.
Since there are many other diagnoses associated with EF skills, such as, ADD, ADHD, ASD, and Traumatic Brain Injury, many tend to look at the larger diagnosis and not look through the EF lens. This can lead to missed opportunities to assist a child with gaining independence and confidence. Often a child may be called “lazy”, when in fact they have EF difficulties and are unable to plan out how to do something.
Here are some great tools to help a child that may be experiencing EF difficulties:
1. Rationale: When a child learns new skills, provide the rationale behind them or things like planning for the task might feel like a waste of time.
2. Outline steps: Support the child by defining the steps involved in tasks ahead of time to make a task less daunting and more achievable.
3. Use aids: Use tools like timers, computers, iPad, or watches with alarms.
4. Visuals: Prepare visual schedules and review them several times a day.
5. Provide 2 types of information: Provide the child with written (or visual) instructions as well as oral instructions.
6. Create checklists and “to do” lists, estimating how long tasks will take. Use checklists for getting through assignments. For example, a student’s checklist could include items such as: get out pencil and paper; put name on paper; put due date on paper; read directions.
7. Use calendars to keep track of long-term assignments, due dates, chores, and activities.
8. Improve working environment: Assist the child to organize their workspace and minimize clutter and distractions.
9. Establish routines to try to consolidate skills and memory of what needs to be done.
10. Cut and paste projects requiring multiple steps in which they must complete tasks in a sequential manner.
11. Mind mapping to assist the child to get ideas down on paper strategically.
12. Games: Planning and problem-solving games such as puzzles or games like ‘Go Getter’ (River & Road game).
13. Lotus diagrams: Use lotus diagrams with the child to help with structuring thoughts on paper whilst creating clear expectations as to how much to write.
14. Block building: Get the child to copy block designs from a picture or a 3D model.
15. Drawing: Draw a picture as a model. Then draw an incomplete version of the same picture and ask the child to finish the picture to make it look like the model.
16. Practice goal setting with the child (e.g., Help the child to set attainable goals that are well-defined). Break goals down into smaller steps and talk about alternative approaches with the child.
17. Recall games that require the child to recall information such as Memory: “I went to the shops and bought a…”
18. Multi-tasking: Practice doing several activities at once (it may be helpful to number the activities) to encourage the child to learn to shift from one activity to another.
Coach Benjamin Mizrahi. Educator. Learning Specialist. Family Coach. Father. Husband.
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