Calgary Child Psychologist Specializing in Executive Functioning Challenges
Child Psychologist and Treatment for Executive Function Difficulties
What is Meant by Executive Functioning?
As a parent, you may have heard your child's teacher or other health professionals talking about executive function challenges or executive function skills. They are becoming key concepts in education as they help professionals target intervention towards focused areas of the brains management system. Recent research shows how crucial executive functioning skills are to children and teen’s performance in school and other key areas of functioning.
In short, executive function skills are the management system of the brain. Without these skills, we would struggle to plan ahead, set goals, or achieve key milestones. Executive function skills can be grouped into areas responsible for:
Emotional Control / Emotion Regulation
Self-control (also called inhibitory control)
While most of these skills develop throughout early childhood and the teenage years, they also continue into the mid-20s. In some individuals, the executive function system can become taxed easily and create difficulties for a child, especially as expectations and demands increase.
What symptoms should parents be looking out for?
Executive function challenges can be difficult to discern, however the following symptoms may indicate an executive function challenge:
1. Your child struggles to pay attention in class or is easily distracted
2. Your child loses control of their emotions over seemingly small or insignificant events. Small problems may have big reactions.
3. Your child finds it hard to start tasks or may struggle to finish a task even once started.
4. Your child finds it difficult to adapt to change or has difficulty with flexibility.
5. Your child finds transitions difficult and has challenges with moving from one activity to the next.
If your child struggles with focus, emotional control, adapting, transitioning, and working memory over a period of time it can suggest an underlying problem. This is something that should be discussed with a Psychologist or doctor as intervention can be directed towards helping your child succeed!
What Causes Executive Function Challenges?
Executive function challenges often overlap with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Additionally, individuals with other neuro -developmental conditions are also impacted by executive function challenges. Current research indicates that the underlying cause may be due to both brain development and genetic predisposition. If a family member deals with executive function challenges, there is a higher chance your child will as well.
How to Support Executive Function Challenges?
Supporting Executive Functioning challenges is a a trial-and-Error Process
Challenges involving executive function can be difficult – especially prior to interventions, but do not have to stop your child from succeeding. Executive Function strategies are key in strengthening a child's or teen's executive function skills.
Executive Functioning skills are the mental processes that allow individuals to plan and organize, control impulses, regulate emotions, remember instructions, multi-task, organize, filter distractions, and prioritize tasks. Executive Function challenges are often present in children with Anxiety, ADHD, and ASD. Creative Sky Psychology helps children and teens develop skills to set goals, plan and organize in incremental steps, develop tools for self-monitoring, and to improve study skills. When Executive Challenges are present, it can be incredibly difficult to start a task, especially if it is not motivating. Multitasking or following multistep directions can also be especially difficult for a child or teen with Executive Functioning challenges. As the demands increase this becomes even more apparent in the later school years. Executive Functioning difficulties often creates frustration and emotional difficulties, as it can be difficult to meet the expectations at both home and school. Creative Sky Psychology looks at the functional impact in the key areas of Executive Function. We help children and teens learn tools to break tasks down into manageable chunks depending on the individuals age and developmental level. When children feel successful, they begin to do better.