Thursday, May 17, 2012

Executive Functioning/ Organization

For those of you that have children with ADHD you know all about executive functioning (ef), even though you may not know you do. Not everyone with EF weaknesses have ADHD but everyone with ADHD has EF weaknesses.
What is executive functioning? In short EF is your frontal lobe abilities. EF are responsible for organization, planning, and focus. These weakness affect a person long past school age. You need to be able to plan and focus. A example is someone that gets overwhelmed in the shower. They know what they need to do but once they get in they are overwhelmed so they need a system in place to help them. Mom won't always be there to give directions.

Some other facts about EF:
  • Switching Classes is a nightmare: you have to remember everything you need to get to class plus get to the right class on time.
  • hard time sustaining attention on boring or tedious activities
  • People with EF are not lazy, they are overwhelmed. 
So What Works:

Posted schedules- Don't just make the schedule post it. If they need help getting ready in the morning post a schedule of what needs to be done.

 Routines- Everyone needs down time. Schedule it into the routine. Give a 30 minute break when returning from school before starting homework to decompress.

Homework Spot- The idea that doing homework in the same spot everyday is best. This is not always true. Research has shown doing homework in a different spot every day helps retention. Also everyone is different. Some can work and thrive with background noise such as a TV or Radio but others need it quite. Do homework where it works. Let them stand up if it helps, lay down, it does not matter as long as they are doing the work and retaining the information.

Consistent Expectations- Self explanatory

Weekly Clean Sweep- Clean out backpacks once a week. Hey while your at it mom clean out your purse. (you know it needs to be done)

Solutions for Disorganization:

Great Visual Timer. Available here

Timers- Visual (NOT DIGITAL). Visual timers work better because you can see how much time you have left where with digital you cannot. With the timers do not use for longer than 30 min. When the time is up you can take a break or keep going. You will be surprised how often your child will keep going when given a choice to take a break or not. In a small way you are giving them control.

Portable Supplies- You can use a shower caddy or something similar. Stock it with everything needed (pencils, calculator, ruler, paper, etc..) Wherever homework is done they will have everything needed on hand. No more Mom I need a eraser. You can find shower caddy's at Target or craft supply holders at Michael's.

Accordion Binder- With the different file areas it can be taken from class to class. These can be found at Staples or any office supplies store

Homework folder- One per class kept in the binder.

Bag in Locker- For older kids a grocery bag in their locker where they can put worksheets, fliers, etc that need to go home throughout the day. For younger they can keep the bag near their desk. At the end of the day they just have to take everything out of the bag and put in backpack.
Launching Pad- Everything that you need to leave the house in one place near the door. It does not have to be as extravagant as the one pictured. Your launching pad can be as simple as a plastic box that backpacks, coats, shoes are kept in, then when it is time to go you grab your stuff and off you go. No more searching for lost shoes.

Graphic Organizers- More visual than a list. Go here for more detailed information

Break Large Tasks and Assignments Into Smaller Parts- break the large assignment into parts. a couple of examples instead of saying write your book report break it down into parts and work on one part at a time. Do characters, then plot, lesson learned and so. Using a graphic organizer works wonders with some in organizing their writing.
A task such as cleaning your room break it down into steps. Don't just say go clean your room, there's to much to do and it gets overwhelming but breaking it into steps and saying clean off your desk. put clothes away, etc makes the task much more manageable.

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