How Parents Can Help Kids with Executive Function Disorder

It may take the patience of Gandhi, but it can be done.

Does everyone have their boxing gloves on? If not, go get them because, as I promised last week, you are going to learn skills to punch Executive Function Disorder (EFD) in the face. Just to review, a student with EFD has trouble:

  • planning out long-term projects and papers
  • initiating tasks such as getting started on essays, projects, and studying for exams
  • prioritizing assignments
  • organizing materials in backpack and work space
  • being punctual
  • meeting due dates for assignments
  • memorizing and retrieving information for tests
  • retaining information and then using the information to perform a task such as remembering the steps for a formula while working on an algebra problem.
  • writing a sequential, organized essay or story with rich details

A kid with EFD is easy to spot. His desk is crammed with papers, dissected pens and old, sticky fruit rollups. He is frantically pawing through all his folders and looking in the bottom of his backpack for homework he swears he did the night before. He hasn’t noticed everyone else has gotten out their textbooks and are busy annotating chapter three. He will inevitably start his poster on the American Revolution the night before it's due, leave the assignment sheet at school, and make his mother go to Walmart at 10 p.m. to get the poster board and stick-on letters he absolutely needs. 

How do we take this mess and make a good student out of him? Well, it’s a process that may take the patience of Gandhi and a good sense of humor, but it can be done. It is imperative that parents and teachers work together to teach and reinforce effective strategies. These strategies should be introduced in the classroom and practiced at home. Here are some ideas you can try at home to help your child

  • Teach your child to set an alarm — on his phone, if available — to help him transition to new activities and remind him that it's time to do something such as go to hockey practice, walk the dog or leave for the bus stop.
  • All homework should be done in a place where parents can see if the student is doing his work and not trolling through Facebook.
  • Teach him to have his backpack packed and his clothes laid out for the next day before he goes to bed.
  • Have a daily set homework time and stick to it whenever possible.
  • Check his planner each evening to make sure homework is done. If he did not write in his planner, have him check the online teacher blogs.
  • Provide necessary school supplies for organization and keep extras on hand. Kids with EFD lose things so he may go through a box of pencils a week.
  • Keep a supply of poster boards, markers, glitter, letters, and whatever else might be needed for projects.               
  • Encourage to-do lists.
  • Clean out his backpack with him once every two weeks. Throw away anything that is no longer needed, and have him put everything else in the appropriate folders and binders.
  • Keep a monthly calendar in plain view so he has a visual of how much time is left before an assignment is due.
  • Be available to quiz him before tests, even if Downton Abbey is on.
  • If your school district has an online gradebook, such as Powerschool, check it at the end of the week to make sure he is actually turning in his assignments and studying. If not, or if his teacher(s) is not great at keeping it updated, it may be beneficial to send an email at the end of each week asking for a quick update. You can use the information you receive to provide a weekend reward.

The idea is for these strategies to become second nature and for your child to perform them independently. It will take time, and you may want to beat your head against the wall from time to time, but keep at it. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.

Sue Schaefer, M.ED., M.A.T., founder of Academic Coaching Associates, is an Academic Coach, Student Advocate, and certified teacher. You may visit her website at www.academiccoachingct.com, email her at susan.schaefer@academiccoachingct.com and follow her on Twitter @sueschaefer1

Robin Hood November 21, 2012 at 08:31 PM
You could add something constructive, if you're able.
Robin Hood November 21, 2012 at 08:45 PM
And if you look at the cure for EFD listed above it says just what I said. Train them. It states: It is imperative that parents and teachers work together to teach and reinforce effective strategies. These strategies should be introduced in the classroom and practiced at home........The idea is for these strategies to become second nature and for your child to perform them independently. It will take time, and you may want to beat your head against the wall from time to time, but keep at it. Not sure I agree with adding another task to teachers that are supposed to teach all students and they are supposed to be ready to learn. I'm impressed, they prescribed no pills, just training that they should have had, you have to be taught these things, obviously many disorders can't be handled this easily. Based on that I have a hard time believeing this is a disorder and I don't think the scientific community would agree, it is a lack of common skills but everyones life experience is different, one child may learn how to repair autos at a very early age, one may learn how to organize, it is all relative to their life experience and environment, not a mental disorder.
Jay Heavens November 21, 2012 at 08:50 PM
It's Gene Bartholomew - using a different ID, but spouting the same nonsense. He realized people were just skipping over a topic when they saw his name, so he changed it. He'll wear this one, too. He is a troll folks. Just trying to rile people up. Don't fall for it.
Observor November 21, 2012 at 09:07 PM
You know, Jay, I once posted the fact that Robin Hood is Gene Bartholomew. Wendy Vincent posted a comment telling me not to do that but within an hour she took her comment down. Patch banned Gene from posting and I don't get why he is allowed to keep rambling when they know full well that he is just using a new name.
Jay Heavens November 21, 2012 at 10:14 PM
He drove Mike crazy at the other Patch, too. You know what got me to this discussion? Reading on the main page, "Damn, Robin's posting agin, there goes another thread down the tubes." I remember someone saying the same exact thing about Gene and wondered.... Yup. It's him again. I picture him as the Comicbook Guy from the Simpsons.
Robin Hood November 22, 2012 at 02:10 PM
you are invited to call me and set up a meeting to discuss this in person
Robin Hood November 22, 2012 at 02:18 PM
same goes for you Jay, call me and set up a meeting to discuss who do you people think you are? This is America, where the First Amendment GUARANTEES MY RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH. GUESS WHO IS ATTACKING IT?? YOU AND PATCH, want to be involved in a Discrimination suit? I believe Patch and you both violated my rights. You have a right to live in your fantasy world. I have a right to live in reality and post things that hopefully make you think and question authority. That's is all I have ever been about, trying to get you people to think. Guess it was a wasted effort.
Robin Hood November 22, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Besides, where is Susan Schaefer? She should be able to set the record straight or add info.
Bill November 22, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Sounds like a challenge. Pistols at dawn, grass for lunch?
Bill November 22, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Well Robin, it couldn't be a discrimination lawsuit unless you are a member of a protected group and can prove you were shut up because of it, difficult one to prove. As to free speech, well you know there are perfectly legal restrictions on that and if you were banned, it was probably for a good reason.
Lucy November 22, 2012 at 10:01 PM
Jay, you are free to ignore the posts of anyone, including those of Robin Hood, who has the same right as you to post. If his posts annoy you, as many posts from right-winged crazy fanatics annoy me, I do not threaten to ban their posts, but either dispute them or ignore them. Are you suggesting a return to McCarthyism?
Observor November 23, 2012 at 01:12 AM
Robin/Gene, the First Amendment is a restriction on the government; it has no applicability to private individuals or organizations. If you don't know that you shouldn't be commenting on public affairs. And Bill is right, a "discrimination suit" requires a statute making you part of a protected class. Trolls, to date, are not a protected class.
Lucy November 23, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Is this where the Klan rally is being held this evening?
karen brown November 23, 2012 at 02:00 AM
Ignoring the previous chain of posting as it seems to have degenerated to points irrelevant o the original article: As the parent of four children, all offered "training", i is obvious to me that one of mine has simply has required more training to become proficient in basic every day routines from a very early age. I read a book called "Late, Lost, and Unprepared" about kids with executive function difficulties which helped me with some practical suggestions and I have worked on many of the strategies outlined by the author of this article. The degree of patience required as a parent to deal with a kid or teen like this cannot be overstated. It is especially difficult when others JUDGE parents for either failing to adequately "train" their child (eg underinvolvement) or for being TOO involved . As parents, educators, coaches, or other adults involved in teaching youth I would encourage all to be patient and supportive of these kids as they mature (as most of these kids are able to pull it together over time and are often very intelligent). Also I would encourage all to be supportive of parents and other adults trying to help these kids. Would welcome any further discussion regarding the article..
Observor November 23, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Well, Lucy, I expected you to run out of intelligent things to say pretty quickly after you started off by saying things like "right-wing crazies" and "McCarthyism." The only mystery was where you'd go next: "Klan! Klan! Klan!" "Nazi! Nazi! Nazi!" or "Fascist! Fascist! Fascist!" Any one of them is a lot easier than thinking.
Robin Hood November 23, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Putting sarcasm aside and the trip into Romper Room, my concerns were that too many children seem to be diagnosed with disorders and experts agree. My real concern with EFD is the name and I question the validity of it being a disorder. I think the name gives a stygma. Everyone is different, people who appear disorganized to some are actually geniouses, Albert Einstein is one that comes to mind. Look at the kid with autism that can play basketball better than anyone on the world. Perhaps we should focus on their gifts instead of their disorders?
Lucy November 23, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Observer, awww, don't whine, little baby: I guess it's okay for you, Bill, and Jay to taunt and ridicule Robin, calling him a "troll", but to receive them in turn, it hurts the little baby. Incidentally, your rants are not thoughts: they are memorized talking points of propaganda from Fox and Rush. Get a brain and try rational thought, dittohead.
Bill November 23, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Well Lucy, by all accounts he IS a troll. And apparently a bad enough troll that he got himself banned once under his true identity and had to come back under the comically inappropriate to his stance moniker of Robin Hood.
Lucy November 23, 2012 at 04:04 PM
And, Bill, you are not a troll, with your inflammatory insults and name calling? The only difference being you are a right-wing troll, not a left-wing troll. And regarding his moniker, what is your real name? Are you not hiding your true identity, too? Isn't this the old Republican tactic of the pot calling the kettle black? All of you brave little boys ganging up on Robin and Maria, insulting them while hiding behind anonymous names. It's so very Republican, isn't it. Yes, we heard the fake excuse: you think that liberals would come knocking on your door and burn your house down. What a joke. You hide behind fake names because you are too cowardly to stand behind your public statements. You don't present syllogistic arguments: you indulge in ad hominem attacks, hurling insults and taunts and regressing to name calling.
Bill November 23, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Well Lucy, Bill IS my real name. I stopped using my full name when some kind all inclusive tolerant lefties started to threaten me, my wife, and kids. Robin stopped using his real name when he got kicked out by patch, BIG difference. Me, I don't care what his real name is, I know I'd never try to track down him, or you for that matter. Why do you care what my real name is if you have no desire to track me down? I mock his moniker because for someone who is all about central planning socialism, which of course equals big government, he takes on the nom de plum of a mythical character who fought against the government. And let's face it, someone like Robin, or you, who hijacks a discussion about kids with disorders to first insult them and their parents and then rant about the government and the right, well that's a troll by and definition. Of course I'm guilty too, of feeding the trolls. You're right though, if I don't want to step in the goose droppings around the park, I shouldn't feed the geese. If I don't want to see that same excrement in print form, I shouldn't respond to you trolls.
Lucy November 23, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Bill, you are the biggest troll: your posts are full of inflammatory insults and rants of a bully. And your first name is not Bill. You are so very afraid that your bigotry would affect your business. So stop the lying. No one threatened you. You don't want your business affected by your mean-spiritedness. It's a tribute to the First Amendment that a cave-dwelling troll like you is free to spout such nonsense.
Bill November 23, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Huh, My name isn't Bill? I'll have to get a new drivers license, mine seems to be in error. Also, I didn't know you were omniscient, you seem to know all about everything that goes on in my life, was that you in the bushes peeping in the window? (Kidding) but it speaks to the ego of someone like you who claims to know what does and doesn't go on in the lives of someone posting on the web. BTW, what is my business, maybe I need new business cards, I didn't think I had a business.
Lucy November 23, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Billy, when confronted with the truth, do as other Republicans do: deny, deny, deny. That's why Romney lost the election: he flip-flopped so much that he had no core, no authenticity. It's the oldest trick. Your name is not Bill. You are too cowardly to even go by your real first name. Bullies are the biggest cowards. And we know you have your own business because you spend all of your time blogging on here: you would have been fired by any employer for doing so. Bill, you are the biggest troll of all. Thank God for Obamacare: now you can get the Prozac you so desperately need.
Bill November 23, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Ok Lucy I give up, what is my first name?
Bill November 23, 2012 at 04:57 PM
You know, never mind, Lucy. Call me anything you want (just don't call me late for dinner) I can't play with you anymore, its just not worth it, and like I said, I have got to stop feeding you trolls, its not fair to you as you'll never learn how to feed and care for yourself if others always do it for you.
Lucy November 23, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Lucy November 23, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Billy boy, you are the pot calling the kettle black. You troll in these forums insulting Maria, Robin, me, and others who have a different political view. Your posts are inflammatory and contribute nothing constructive to the discussion. If you had any sense of decency, you would post under your real name; you would present a courteous and respectful post without indulging in ad hominem attacks; and you would be respectful. But the demons must visit you every night, coaching you on how to be mean and disrespectful: in other words, a dittohead troll.
Bill November 23, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Ok Lucy, just for you as you are such a courteous and kind young lady. My first name is, in fact, Inigo. Yes that's right, my name is Inigo Montoya, you kill my father, prepare to pay.
Lucy November 23, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Cute and funny, and I am Mandy Patinkin, the actor who play the character, Inigo Montoya, in the movie, "The Princess Bride." Billy, I would respect you a whole lot more if you posted under your real name and debated in a rational and civilized manner without relying on insults and name calling to drive home your argument. You might discover that you do indeed have some substance to your point of view and convince others as well. I must end this thread since this is getting us nowhere. My point is that both Democrats and Republicans rely too much on anonymous invective, insults, and name calling instead of presenting their positions rationally and identifying the source of their statements: their real names. Sources of statements always matter: it is a requisiite of scholarship and distinguishes informed thought from hearsay and opinion. Anonymous postings are not worthy of any consideration since their authors do not have enough conviction in them to identify their source. I am not a flaming liberal. I hold many conservative views, especially those that are financial. I believe most Americans would find more that they agree upon than disagree upon. If more of us assumed responsibility for our statements, and presented them in a more dignified, intelligent, and respectful manner, we might be able to overcome this division among the 99% that is getting us nowhere. My sincerest best to you, Billy.
Bill November 23, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Well hello Mandy, I knew Lucy wasn't your real name. Get it? You see, it's kind of silly to complain that someone isn't posting under their "real name" I have no way of knowing that your real name is Lucy, other than you claim it is. I just have to take your word for it. Like Mr Hood here, I could just as easily as he, set up a profile under the name Francis Alueitious Snugglebottom or, Lucy Bonola. Buh bye, see you later.


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