Child & Family Development Child & Family Development

January 13, 2016

What is Executive Functioning?


Jessica DeLing, M.Ed. and the other educators at Child and Family Development regularly assess and treat children, teens and young adults with concerns about executive functioning.   

The first question is often “What is it?”.  Executive Functioning skills involve‚Ķ‚Äùhigh-level cognitive functions‚Ķthat help us to decide what activities or task we will pay attention to and which ones we will choose to do‚Ķthey allow us to organize behavior over time and override immediate demands in favor of longer-term goals‚Ķallow us to plan and organize activities, sustain attention, and persist to complete a task‚Ķallow us to manage our emotions and monitor our thoughts in order to work more efficiently and effectively.‚Äù (Dawson & Guare, 2010)

Next, we answer what skills are related to executive functioning.  Some examples are: 

  • Impulse Control
  • Emotional Control
  • Planning & Prioritizing
  • Flexibility
  • Working Memory
  • Self-Monitoring
  • Task Initiation
  • Organization
  • Time Management
  • Attention
  • Goal Directed Persistence

People use their executive functioning skills constantly.  Consider how these skills impact us throughout their day.

  • At home: keeping rooms organized, daily routines, following multi-step directions
  • In school: managing assignments, remembering materials, turning in work, following directions
  • With peers: taking turns, making and keeping plans, flexibility 

Our 3 Educational Specialists provide direction and support in determining and meeting the learning needs of every student, from elementary school to the college years. We assist parents in identifying and addressing initial concerns and then developing comprehensive recommendations to move forward, often including Individualized Education Plan (IEP) development with the public school system. Educators also collaborate with schools and community agencies and offer follow-up meetings as parents proceed with their plans. Services can include tutoring, academic coaching, assessment, consultation and parent advocacy.