Executive Functions (EF) are mental processes that help to connect past experience with present action to guide future behaviour. Individuals with Learning Disabilities and/or ADHD may experience increased difficulty in the development and use of these functions compared to their same-aged neurotypical peers. These functions underlie activities such as planning, organizing, strategizing, paying attention to and remembering details, and managing time and space. When students struggle in these areas, it can result in behaviours that are often labeled as “attention-seeking”, “defiant”, “showing off”, “unmotivated” or “lazy”, “emotional overreactions”, and “inflexible”, just to name a few.
School can be tough for kids and teens with EF deficits. When the adults in their world understand the how and why of EF deficits and what they can do to maximize the success of these students, it can significantly impact learning, engagement, and motivation at school. With a focus on cognitive neuroscience research and brain-based strategies that you can use to increase student engagement, motivation, and self-management, we will discuss:
• The Executive Functions and how they work
• Discuss the development of EF
• How EF deficits impact students and classroom dynamics
• How to best support students with EF deficits