The way learning and living is complicated when we have trouble with organization

Hello world!

Welcome to a discussion on Executive Dysfunction, a set of obstacles to smooth management of life’s challenges which impacts people who may have any of a number of diagnoses (or none) from ADHD to Traumatic Brain Injury, mood disorders to stroke and Alzheimers Disease.  I am interested in EDF (Executive Dysfunction) because it cuts across so many diagnostic clusters.  If we can learn how to treat EDF better, we can help so many people live more productive and satisfying lives.  I’ll post thoughts here, and I hope others will do the same sharing their experiences with EDF.

Comments on: "Hello world!" (7)

  1. Hello, I randomly googled the Executive Dysfunction disorder because I wasn’t completely sure what it was about. Now I know…After reading your EDF paper and explanation, I am so thankful for it! I have a teenage boy who is failing in the 9th grade and wants to quit school. He has gotten so far down that black hole that he feels there’s no hope for himself and redeeming his academic career and his teachers have expressed this sentiment to him. My husband and I haven’t given up on him. My son’s teachers no longer call or email me about his progress as they’ve done in the past. When I email them, their response is “I’ll get back to you about that.” or “Check the website for his grades. They are listed there along with his missing assignments.” Well, I’ve used this site and it’s not updated by the teachers unless a complaint is mentioned by email to them, so I don’t rely on that site as much now. The vice principal and I are getting to be great phone buddies though, so you might say that’s a plus but it drives the support of his teachers further from my son and myself when I ask for their help.

    What you’ve written on EDF is my son 100%!!! We are currently letting him try a low dose of Ritalin. He does have a heart condition, so he must be closely monitored while on the drug, but his cardiologist seems to feel it won’t be much of a problem.

    My wish is that the school be not only held more accountable for their assistance with children who have EDF but that they are held accountable when they give up on and write off all kids with alternative learning styles. My son loves learning and soaks it all up when the teacher is presenting the information in an easy, fun and interesting manner with less focus on how many handouts are given and what county tests need to be met before a certain calendar date. Our school system is in Howard County Maryland and supposedly “THE BEST” but they have recently fallen from grace and no longer have the “model school system” everyone wants to use. That was the main reason my husband wanted to live here in Howard County, Maryland– the schools were so forward thinking and they really understood how to cater to the needs of children with alternative learning styles. Even the schools systems from China have stopped sending their teachers and other administrative officials. They are no longer using and fashioning their Westernized school curriculum after what we have here in Maryland. I think that honor goes to a town near Camden, NJ.

    Again, thank you for the EDF information and good luck with your continued work!

  2. kristinsk said:

    Hello Ellen,
    I understand. The public school system does not recognize the diagnosis EDF or even ADHD as “learning disabilities” and the things they do recognize were established a hundred years ago. There is a confusion between the goal of meeting each child’s learning needs and judging bad behavior. Very often, kids with EDF will do their homework but forget to turn it in and this is attributed to laziness. Their disorganization of materials is similarly seen as a thing they need to “take responsibity” for, when responsibility is not the problem. It is interesting to me how quickly adults will assume that a kid is misbehaving, or taking advantage of them, and how few children are really operating along those lines.

    Has your son had a thorough neuropsychological evaluation? Considering your location I would recommend taking him to have one under the care of Dr. Gerard Gioia at the Children’s National Medical Center in Rockville. Here is a link to his web.
    With the results of such an evaluation, and the participation of Dr. Gioia’s staff, you can show your son what is getting in his way, and help his teachers to understand it as well.

    Howard County does have a “good” school system but the flaw in the understanding of what prompts behavior is in the root of the system. If medicine were as distant from biology as education is from what we know about how learning and behavior work, we’d all be much worse shape.

  3. Hi Kristin,

    Just to let you know, my son has been on Concerta XR for one month now and has made leaps and bounds in reclaiming the rest of his school year! My husband and I are considering Dr. Gioia’s evaluation before the new school years begins in August. He will still have to go to summer school to make up for failing the Math and Science classes, but on the whole, it’s all good and he’s feeling better about himself and what he is able to accomplish.

    Thank you again for your suggestions and keep in touch!

  4. Hi. I have believed for some time now that our 17-year-old son has EDF. We would like to be able to help him with organization but past attempts have not worked well because he is so resistant to getting help/support from us (his parents). I the need for support is a blow to his self-esteem; and he views it as either lack of confidence in him or “babying” him, although we have tried to explain EDF to him in different ways and given him material to read. Do you know of any coaches/tutors in the Washington DC area who could provide him with support for EDF? Perhaps if someone other than his parents provide the tutoring, maybe he will be more accepting of the help and we can stop getting into tugs of war about using the tools to help him be more organized.

  5. Hello Sherry,
    Guys his age often feel as he does. The logic is that people who need help are inferior, so one avoids help, rejects it when offered, because to accept it implies acceptance of inferiority. That’s a hard thing for most of us to do, especially hard for his age and gender group. Add to the picture that developmentally he is engaged in separating himself from dependence on you, and you have the recipe for the kind of conflict you mention.

    If EDF were fixable by the application of a study skills course, or directions on how to organize one’s materials and time, he would have learned hose things by now. They are presented each year in class, you have endeavored to teach him those skills, and I have no doubt that he has tried to learn them.

    Intervening with EDF involves teaching more effective methods of organization, updating ideas that were formed early in one’s academic career to accommodate the increasing demands, and providing support while the new is learned, fading it back as greater mastery is achieved. Sometimes it is easier for someone new to do this.

    Have you had a neuropsychological assessment done? It would help pinpoint what is going wrong for him and where his strengths are. Often this kind of evaluation helps the person see his own relative strengths and weaknesses more clearly, and one effect of this is often to reduce the fog of self-defeating beliefs in favor of more objective information. Since Washington D. C. is within my area of practice I will email you with some specific suggestions.

  6. What can parents do to convince schools that EDF truly is a real learning difference, not laziness or being uncaring? No matter what I try to tell my son’s school (Douglas County, CO), they pretty much tell me that he has to step up the plate and advocate for himself. It’s a little hard for him to do that when he doesn’t even remember to turn in assignments, much less do them.

  7. OMG. Just learned about this term.

    I am 62 and have been wondering why I can’t grasp certain tasks, have no directional ability, no spatial relation understanding. I have a Masters + and am of reasonable intelligence. Most recently discovered I have been having dfficulties memorizing dog agility courses. There are 18 obstacles and I can’t seem to remember the course flow and freeze up. I can’t understand why my fellow competitors find this so easy. I study it for a long time and still can’t remeber it. I am only successful at running the course about half the time. This is very discouraging. I have tried to memorize patterns, but that only works sometimes. Feel defeated.

    Thanks for shedding some light 🙂

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