Fast ForWord software rewires learning.
- Cognitive and reading programs, with teacher support.
- Based on the principles of neuroplasticity.
What Is Executive Function?
Executive function is best described as those "actions we perform to ourselves and direct at ourselves so as to accomplish self-control, goal-directed behavior, and the maximization of future outcomes." Think of executive function as playing the role of an orchestra conductor -- he organizes various instruments to begin playing alone or in combination, integrates the music by bringing in and fading certain sections, and controls the pace and intensity of the music.
Practically speaking, executive function disorders may cause problems for students with ADD or ADHD in several important areas: getting started and finishing work, remembering homework, memorizing facts, writing essays or reports, working math problems, being on time, controlling emotions, completing long-term projects, and planning for the future.
Gemm Learning helps executive functioning skills by improving underlying processing and learning efficiency, as well as by exercising the sequencing, selective attention and working memory skills essential to development of executive functioning.
Treatment for executive function disorder
The Five Components Of Executive Function
Five general components of executive function impact school performance:
- Working memory and recall -- holding facts in mind while manipulating information; accessing facts stored in long-term memory.
- Activation, arousal, and effort -- getting started; paying attention; finishing work.
- Controlling emotions -- ability to tolerate frustration; thinking before acting or speaking.
- Internalizing language -- using "self-talk" to control one's behavior and direct future actions.
- Taking an issue apart, analyzing the pieces, reconstituting and organizing it into new ideas -- complex problem solving.
Students with executive dysfunction may also have difficulty judging the passage of time accurately, which means they cannot accurately estimate how much time it will take to finish a task; consequently, they may not allow enough time to complete work.
It also affects their sense of the future. Students live in the present, focus on the here and now; they are less likely to talk about time or plan for the future. As a result, students have difficulty projecting lessons learned in the past, forward into the future (limited foresight) and have difficulty preparing for the future.
Learning development is sequential. These critical executive function skills are often compromised due to the delayed development of efficiency in foundational skills, such as processing.
Problems Linked to ADHD and Executive Function Deficits
Many students with ADD or ADHD have impaired working memory and slow processing speed, which are important elements of executive function. Not surprisingly, these skills are critical for writing essays and working math problems.
Program for attention deficits
A recent research study by Mayes and Calhoun has identified written expression as the most common learning problem among students with ADHD (65 percent). Consequently, writing essays, drafting book reports or answering questions on tests or homework are often very challenging for these students. For example, when writing essays, students often have difficulty holding ideas in mind, acting upon and organizing ideas, quickly retrieving grammar, spelling and punctuation rules from long-term memory, manipulating all this information, remembering ideas to write down, organizing the material in a logical sequence, and then reviewing and correcting errors.
Since learning is relatively easy for most of us, sometimes we forget just how complex seemingly simple tasks really are, for example working a math problem. With word problems, we must hold several numbers and questions in mind while we decide how to work a problem. Next we must delve into long-term memory to find the correct math rule to use for the problem. Then we must hold important facts in mind while we apply the rules and shift information back and forth between working and short-term memory to work the problem and determine the answer.
Poor Working Memory and Recall
Executive function and Working Memory are closely linked. Weak short Working memory -- holding information in mind for roughly twenty seconds -- capacity roughly the equivalent of seven numbers -- or the inability to hold several things in mind at once -- has a number of symptoms:
- difficulty remembering and following instructions
- difficulty memorizing math facts, spelling words, and dates
- difficulty performing mental computation such as math in one's head
- forgetting one part of a problem while working on another segment
- difficulty paraphrasing or summarizing
- not easily learning from past behavior (limited hindsight)
In the context of these and other Working Memory symptoms and behaviors, it is sometimes hard to distinguish between the Working Memory issue or the executive function deficit.
Treatment to improve Working Memory