Is Poor Executive Function Getting Your Child in Trouble?

Briana Hurst Auditory Processing, Classroom, Core Learning Skills, Development, Executive Function, General Information, Homeschool, Homework, IEP, Learning disabilities, Learning Disability, Primitive Reflexes, School 0 Comments

The bell rings.  Eleven-year-old Kasey explodes from her desk and races out the door, knocking into a few desks, trampling a few toes, and elbowing several classmates out of the way.  She is SO ready for recess and trots off to grab a ball before anyone else does.

Kasey has no idea that there is a problem.  After all, the bell rang and all she’s doing is going outside for recess!  But once again, she is in trouble and her parents are going to get a call because she knocked a classmate down as she jettisoned out the door.

Kasey is a nice, well-meaning kid, but she has very poor executive function skills.  She is unable to self-monitor and manage her attention and behavior.  She wouldn’t purposely knock other students down, but she is impulsive and doesn’t mentally predict or evaluate the consequences of her actions.

Executive function skills are high-level self-management skills that develop all the way through childhood, but don’t completely develop until about age 25.  Most students need some guidance in developing executive function, and some, like Kasey, need a great deal of intentional, guided, and monitored instruction.

Steps to Helping Children and Teens Develop Executive Function

Learning to create and use strategies to monitor and evaluate be­havior and attention is literally training executive function. Applying the use of strategies to problem solving of any kind involves:

  • Awareness that there is a problem
  • Identifying exactly what the problem is
  • Coming up with possible solutions or strategies
  • Evaluating how well each strategy will work and what the outcome will be
  • Deciding on the best solution
  • Committing to trying it
  • Evaluating whether the outcome was what was expected
  • Modifying the strategy as needed

These are steps we can use to help children develop executive function and study skills. Through dialoguing, modeling, practicing, and evaluating together, children become more and more capable of managing their own behavior, choices, attention, and studies.

Applying these Steps for Kasey

Awareness that there is a problem

Parent or teacher re-enact the scene with Kasey, helping her notice the things and people she bumps or tramples as she races for the door.

Identify exactly what the problem is

Kasey has weak auditory processing and language skills, so sitting in a class that requires listening and note-taking is like torture for her.  By the time the bell rings, she’s ready to jump out of her skin.  The problem for Kasey, is that she is so uncomfortable by the end of class that she just has to get out of the class and move, NOW!

Come up with possible solutions or strategies

Possible Solution #1:  Kasey could be released for recess early

Possible Solution #2:  Kasey could sit right next to the door

Possible Solution #3:  Kasey could be restricted from going to recess every time she races out the door

Possible Solution #4:  Kasey could sit closer to the door and be put in charge of opening the door for recess

Dialogue to evaluate how well each strategy will work and what the outcome will be

#1:  Could keep other students from getting knocked around, but it may cause Kasey to miss assignments given at the end of the period and cause other students to be mad at her for going to recess early

#2:  Kasey can get out the door quickly without having to navigate through the rest of the students.  This meets Kasey’s need to move and the teacher’s need to keep other students safe.  It does not take any extra time.

#3:  This might eventually help Kasey remember not to run out the door, but does not meet her need to move.

#4:  Giving Kasey the responsibility of opening the door for the class (and teaching class that they are to wait until door is opened before heading for the door) gets Kasey to the door first and gives her something important to do that provides a reason to be less impulsive and more intentional about going to the door.

Kasey and her teacher can decide on the best solution (either #2 or #4).  Both need to commit to trying it for a given amount of time (1 – 5 days) and then evaluate together how it is working.  They need to modify the strategy as needed.

If solution #2 was chosen, they might find that Kasey is still impulsively racing out the door, though no one is in her way.  To help Kasey be more intentional about controlling her impulsiveness and speed, they might decide to try solution #4, with the caveat that a leader has to be an example. The teacher might (privately) have Kasey role play / practice several times saying to herself, “When the bell rings, I walk slowly to the door” and then do it.

This strategy is worth the time it takes, as it helps students to become more independent and responsible and feel better about themselves.

When students such as Kasey struggle in school, it is usually because there are weak underlying learning/processing skills that are not supporting the learner well enough.  Correcting the real root of Kasey’s challenges will involve developing the underlying auditory and language processing skills so that she doesn’t have to feel like she’s going to jump out of her skin by the end of the lecture.

The great news is that the underlying skills needed for students to be successful, independent learners can be developed.  If you or your child are struggling with learning, attention, or executive function challenges and you’re ready for a real change…

JOIN US for a FREE Parent Information Night!

For details and RSVP go to www.learningdisability.com

 

“Helping smart but struggling students dramatically improve or completely correct their learning and attention challenges by developing the underlying learning skills that are not supporting the learner well enough.”
We serve children and adults with diagnosed or undiagnosed learning and attention challenges including learning disabilities, dyslexia, ADHD, auditory processing disorders, and autism spectrum disorders.
Jill Stowell, M.S.
Author:  At Wit’s End A Parent’s Guide to Ending the Struggle, Tears, and Turmoil of Learning Disabilities
Founder and Executive Director – Stowell Learning Centers

I Want My Happy Child Back!

Briana Hurst Classroom, Development, General Information, Homework, IEP, Learning disabilities, Learning Disability, Poor grades, School 0 Comments

I HATE shrimp – especially the tiny ones used to make shrimp cocktail.  I hate how they look, how they smell, how they feel in my mouth, and how they taste.  I have a visceral reaction to shrimp, and needless-to-say, as an adult, I NEVER eat them.

At our Parent Information Night last week, a parent shared that her smart, athletic, social 10 year old has a visceral reaction to learning. He HATES anything related to reading, writing, math, or schoolwork.

So what is it all about when an otherwise capable, accomplished child or adult responds this way?  Is this laziness? Stubbornness?  Defiance?  Lack of motivation?  Most likely not.

Smart kids who struggle with learning or attention know they are struggling – even at a young age.  They can look around the classroom and see that everyone else is finished before they are; that their grades are not as good; that while others get to go out to recess, they have to stay in to finish their work, or have to spend their lunchtime getting help from the teacher.

For some students, the effort that it takes to look at and perceive the words on the page, to figure out words when reading, to formulate their thoughts, to write, or to understand and organize math is so great that they dread those kinds of tasks and begin to avoid them at all costs.

Repeatedly, I hear from parents, I just want my happy child back!  I want him to feel confident.  I want her to love learning and feel like she can do anything.

Increase in confidence is one of the first changes that we see with students as we begin to develop the weak underlying skills that are at the root of their learning challenges!

Success in reading, writing, spelling, math and all those academic subjects taught in school, rests in large part on many different underlying learning/processing skills that allow the brain to get and organize the information needed for learning.  It has been traditionally believed that if you have dyslexia, learning challenges, or attention problems, you just have to learn to live with them – to compensate or get around them.

The truth is that most learning and attention challenges can be dramatically improved or completely corrected by first identifying and developing the underlying skills that are not supporting the learner well enough, and then remediating the affected basic academic skills.  We have see this thousands of times over the last 30 years and the brain research in the last 25 years has proven that the brain can be retrained.  Our bright but struggling students do not have to hate school or resort to coping strategies to survive it.

Does your child struggle with learning or attention? Hate school?  Avoid learning tasks?

JOIN US for a FREE Parent Information Night to learn how this can change.

Click here for details and RSVP: http://learningdisability.com/parent-info-night/.

 

“Helping smart but struggling students dramatically improve or completely correct their learning and attention challenges by developing the underlying learning skills that are not supporting the learner well enough.”
We serve children and adults with diagnosed or undiagnosed learning and attention challenges including learning disabilities, dyslexia, ADHD, auditory processing disorders, and autism spectrum disorders.
Jill Stowell, M.S.
Author:  At Wit’s End A Parent’s Guide to Ending the Struggle, Tears, and Turmoil of Learning Disabilities
Founder and Executive Director – Stowell Learning Centers

7 Myths and the Truth About Learning Challenges

Briana Hurst ADD / ADHD, Anxiety, Asperger’s Syndrome, Attention, Auditory Processing, Autistic Spectrum, Classroom, Comprehension, Core Learning Skills, Developmental delays, Dysgraphia, Dyslexia, Executive Function, General Information, Homeschool, Homework, IEP, Learning disabilities, Math and Dyscalculia, Primitive Reflexes, Processing Speed, Reading, School, Sensory Processing, Social Skills, Spelling, Sports, Writing 2 Comments

Myth #1:  People with learning challenges just aren’t that smart.

Truth:  By definition, students with learning disabilities have average to above average intelligence.  This is why it is so frustrating and confusing for all involved when otherwise typical students struggle in school

Myth #2:  Students who struggle in school are just lazy.

Truth:  After multiple failures, a student may give up, but in my experience, laziness is NEVER the real reason for the struggle.

Myth #3:  They just don’t care.  They’re not motivated.

Truth:  Students who struggle may adopt an attitude of boredom or not caring, but they care deeply and would not choose to fail if they had the skills to do the job.

Myth #4:  If you’re not diagnosed with a learning disability, ADHD, or dyslexia, you don’t have a problem.

Truth:  Research indicates that 30% of the population has some degree of difficulty with the auditory skill that supports reading.  Only 5 – 9% actually get diagnosed as having a learning disability.  That leaves about 20% of students undiagnosed but struggling to some degree.

Myth #5:  With time, students will grow out of a learning challenge.

Truth:  In most cases, this simply is not true.  Children with learning challenges may become better at hiding or compensating for their challenges, but time alone does not eliminate the problems.

Myth #6:  The best way to deal with a learning challenge is to work around it; to learn to compensate for it.

Truth: Neuroscience research has proven that the brain can change. It is a crime to assume that these high potential children and adults must spend their lives compensating for their challenges.  The brain, and therefore learning challenges, can change.

Myth #7:  A learning problem is a permanent condition

Truth:  Brain research in the last 3 decades has proven that with targeted and intensive cognitive training, the brain can develop new, more efficient, and permanent connections for learning and processing information.

 

If you know or work with someone with a learning or attention challenge, here are 2 events for you:

Parent Information Night Learn why some smart kids struggle and what can be done to change it permanently.  Click here for details and RSVP: http://learningdisability.com/parent-info-night/.

 

SLC Grand Re-opening:  Stowell Learning Center Irvine

April 22, 2017 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

  • Try out cutting-edge techniques our students use
  • Tour our beautiful new facility
  • Special activities for kids / childcare
  • Student art display
  • Scholarship drawings and raffle
  • Free FOOD Truck Lunch

SIMULATIONS:  Experience what it feels like to have dyslexia, auditory processing, or attention challenges

SPEAKER:  Jill Stowell

7 Myths and the Truth About Learning Challenges:

Understanding and Supporting Struggling Students

 

“Helping smart but struggling students dramatically improve or completely correct their learning and attention challenges by developing the underlying learning skills that are not supporting the learner well enough.”
We serve children and adults with diagnosed or undiagnosed learning and attention challenges including learning disabilities, dyslexia, ADHD, auditory processing disorders, and autism spectrum disorders.
Jill Stowell, M.S.
Author:  At Wit’s End A Parent’s Guide to Ending the Struggle, Tears, and Turmoil of Learning Disabilities
Founder and Executive Director – Stowell Learning Centers