Executive functions are those aspects of our mental functioning that enableuse to get things done. A seminal writer on ADHD, Russell Barkley, also has a book entirely devoted to executive functions. He defines executive functions “as self-regulation to achieve goals”. In his book on childhood ADHD, Barkley states that there are six executive functions and that each one is a type of self-regulation. He states that these functions are inhibition, self-directed action, self-directed visual imagery, self-directed speech, self-directed emotional control and self-directed play.

While Barkley’s work provides a theoretical underpinning for helping a person with executive function weaknesses, the book Smart but Scattered by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare will provide more information directly useful to parents in helping their children. These authors list eleven executive skills. These include: response inhibition, working memory, emotional control, sustained attention, task initiation, planning/prioritization, organization, time management, goal-directed persistence, flexibility and metacognition. They explain what each skill is and what to look for in a child’s behavior to ascertain the relative strength of the skill. They provide information to help parents identify what are their children’s executive strengths and weaknesses. They emphasize that parents can reinforce the use of these skills in their children whether they have an identified weakness in one or more areas or no weakness. Thus all parents are encouraged to support their children’s use of these self-directed actions to control their behavior as part of the long trajectory toward full self-control required and expected of adults.

If you would like you or your child to receive services regarding ADHD at Specialized Therapy Associates, please call 201-488-6678.