Executive Function Challenges

Executive function involves the skills necessary to succeed in school and in life; two examples are time management and problem solving. A person with executive deficits can have extraordinary talents and abilities, but not possess the organizational capacities to demonstrate these abilities in a useful and productive manner.

TS and Executive Function

Many people with TS are chronically disorganized. They have difficulty developing strategies to overcome problems, or implementing strategies suggested to them, which create significant obstacles to academic success.

These students frequently require substantial support to manage workflow and must learn strategies to overcome executive dysfunction challenges. Improved executive function skills enable students to prioritize tasks, complete assignments, and manage time to more accurately reflect their true abilities.

What is Executive Function?

Executive function includes the ability to:

  • Manage time and attention
  • Switch focus
  • Plan and organize
  • Remember details
  • Curb inappropriate speech or behavior
  • Integrate past experience with present action

Types of Executive Function

Executive function can be divided into two categories: organization and regulation:

Organization involves gathering information and structuring it for evaluation.
Regulation involves taking stock of the environment and changing behavior in response to it.

For example, seeing a piece of chocolate cake on the dessert cart at a restaurant may be tempting. But good executive function will help remind you that the cake is likely to contain hundreds of calories and that eating it conflicts with your weight management goals.

Executive Function in Children

Problems with executive function may become most apparent during a child’s grade school years, when they interfere with the ability to start and complete schoolwork on time. The good news is that the brain continues to develop well into adulthood. A person’s executive functions are shaped by physical changes but also by ongoing experiences. Early attention to problems with executive functioning can help children outgrow and compensate for weaknesses.