A word about timing here. We know that kids with executive function disorders mature more slowly than the norm. Pushing them to drive at 16, graduate high school “on time” at 18, go to college 3 months later and become independent then is often unrealistic and can cause ENORMOUS Trouble.
I had a conversation with a mother of a 6 year old today who was told that her child was “behind” because she isn’t reading on her own yet. People! Differences in hitting normal milestones are not disasters! Taking a look at what is coming easily to this little girl and what is giving her some trouble is the thing to do. We should be doing that with each kid! Some will be blowing through achievement timelines in one area and “behind” in others. The question in both cases is “what does s/he need to master skill x ?”
Graduations, parties, Senior trips, Prom, exams, = STRESS!! This is often a joyful time of year but it’s hard on the executive functions! Take some extra care about communication. Connect about expectations each day!
Often an accommodation of “extra time” is made for students and workers who have a diagnosis that includes Executive Dysfunction. They need extra time on tests and other assignments, but they may also need a reduced workload. An example is a child who has 10 math questions for homework but it takes her the hour most kids use to complete just 5 of them. The same child may also need to do 20 such questions to get the process involved really learned. She needs both more time to answer fewer questions, and more practice to achieve knowledge and fluency than her classmates do with less. Unfortunately we cannot make more time in the day, and school schedules are packed! What to do?
One thing schools can do is to plan some practice time into the class period. Practice won’t harm anyone doing a little more than they strictly need, but it will help those who need a bit more. Parents can facilitate practice at homework time, but many children have too much homework already. It is a problem!
Imagine a family with two kids. One of them struggles with Executive Dysfunction, and the other doesn’t. One fits in easily at school and shines academically, the other one “has issues.” One of them is no trouble at all, and the other one…. It’s always something. You get the idea! The family, the school, the neighborhood, all begin to think of one as “THE GOOD ONE” and the other as … well, not.
What is going on here? These are good people who love their children. They are intelligent, educated and involved with both kids. Part of what is wrong is that they never expected to have kids who had trouble in school.
Often people are not especially conscious of what they expect before they become parents, but they do have a script in the back of their minds. One couple told me in our first meeting that they thought the school years would be packing lunches, saying goodbye at the bus stop in the morning, family dinners and kids doing their homework in the evening, bathing, brushing teeth, and good night at bed time. They really did expect this, but their two absolutely adorable hyperactive Aspergery boys who loved puzzles and the Zoombinis, did not fit seamlessly into the school day. The parents wanted SOMETHING that “would work” and by this, what they really wanted was something to re-synch their reality with their not-so-conscious expectations. What they needed to do was adjust their expectations to the reality of the children they had. I’ll write more on this soon.
Does this sound familiar?
I’ve neglected this blog for long enough! Going forward, I am going to put at least weekly stories of my adventures with Executive Dysfunction, as I work with those who suffer with it, to find understanding of the forces at work, and alternative methods and tools for getting better results. I invite you to add your own thoughts, concerns and stories. I will not use the real names of my students, replacing any male ones with “John” and any female ones with “Jane.”
The idea is to share and reflect, not to identify and critique.
19 demerits for cutting classes, study group, study hall and afternoon study hall
6 demerits for skipping Saturday detentions
4 demerits for unauthorized cell phone use
3 demerits for throwing copper in chemistry
1 demerit for spitballs
1 demerit for wrestling in the hall
1 demerit for talking in detention
7 demerits for being excessively disruptive in classes
1 demerit for insulting another student
2 demerits for class tardies
5 demerits for inappropriate use of technology
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.