What is Executive Functioning?

Executive functioning is a term that refers to a set of mental skills that help us plan, organize, and complete tasks. These skills are important for success in school, work, and everyday life. Executive functioning skills include things like working memory, planning and organization, task initiation, and flexibility.

Difficulty with executive functioning is common in individuals with a number of conditions, including ADHD, learning disorders, and ASD, and it can affect people’s ability to complete tasks, follow through on commitments, and manage their time and resources. It can also impact social skills and relationships.

How Can You Improve It?

Evidence-based interventions for executive dysfunction include:

1. Medication: Medication may be helpful for individuals with executive dysfunction that is due to conditions such as ADHD. Stimulant medications can help improve focus and attention, and may also improve executive functioning skills.

2. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of therapy that helps people change thought patterns and behaviors. It can be helpful for improving executive functioning skills by teaching individuals strategies for managing their time and resources, and for breaking tasks down into smaller, more manageable steps.

3. Occupational therapy: Occupational therapy can help people develop the skills they need to participate in everyday activities, such as dressing, grooming, and eating. Occupational therapists use a variety of techniques, such as sensory integration therapy, to help individuals with executive dysfunction process sensory information more effectively.

4. Executive functioning coaching: Executive functioning coaches are professionals who specialize in helping individuals with executive dysfunction improve their skills and achieve their goals. They may work with individuals on a one-on-one basis, or in small groups, to teach strategies for improving executive functioning skills.

Executive functioning issues are not at all uncommon, and they can be quite disruptive, impairing people’s ability to complete important tasks and manage their time and resources. However, there are some evidence-based interventions, including medication, CBT, occupational therapy, and executive functioning coaching, that can help people manage these challenges and, by so doing, help them achieve their goals.