Executive dysfunction is a term that refers to a set of cognitive processes that are responsible for regulating, controlling, and coordinating other cognitive processes. These processes play a crucial role in our ability to plan, organize, initiate, and execute actions that are goal-directed and purposeful. When these processes are impaired, individuals may experience difficulties with everyday activities, such as cooking, cleaning, or managing finances.
Executive dysfunction is like when you have tried to complete a puzzle and got to the end, only to find some pieces are missing.
It’s literally like opening a door only to find yourself still hunting around for the right room
And it’s frustrating
That is what it is like when you have an executive function deficit
Research has shown strong correlations between dyslexia, autism, ADHD & dyspraxia symptoms and deficits in short-term memory and executive functioning.
And so instead trying to figure it out yourself
Going through many doors
In my case it was…
Thousands of pounds on courses
Thousands of pounds on coaching
Too many Self-Help Books (I have so many kindle books I have started to delete them, some are not worth the paper they are written on)
Because these things lead to more questions than answers
If you have fell into the same trap
Let me stop you right there and save you some coins…
Let me also remind you that…It’s not your fault
You have not been given the right foundational insights
I believe in a strengths-based approach
I believe in reframing and seeing the positives
But if you don’t even know your strengths & challenges
And I am not talking about naming creativity as a strength or memory as a challenge
I am talking about the cognitive specifics
The ones that can give you insights to publish a journal in 24 hours, even when there are roadblocks
Roadblocks that before these insights, would have made me swear horrible words to my PC
Insights have given me tools to understand my emotions and healthily process them so that I can pursue my goals.
Insights and tools that work
Insights that help you know where you are on the emotional regulation scale
One of the tell-tell signs that you are dealing with an executive dysfunction is by taking my assessment for executive function skills
Understand development areas – Know what areas you need to develop so you can improve your effectiveness.
Understand strengths – where you’re excelling so you can double down your impact.
Grab 18 tips – That will help you develop in the weaker executive function skills so you can build them into strengths.
Definition of Executive Dysfunction
Executive dysfunction is a type of cognitive impairment that affects the brain’s ability to control and coordinate other cognitive processes. It is often associated with conditions such as ADHD, autism, depression, and traumatic brain injury, although it can also occur in individuals with no underlying medical conditions.
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Evaluating Executive Function Difficulties
Executive function difficulties refer to challenges in a person’s ability to manage and regulate their cognitive processes effectively. To evaluate these difficulties, various diagnostic criteria and tools can be used. This article section will explore the Diagnostic Criteria and Tools, the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF), Conners 3, Barkley Deficits in Executive Functioning Scale (BDEFS) for Adults, Comprehensive Executive Function Inventory (CEFI), and the importance of professional evaluation and screening.
Diagnostic Criteria and Tools
Diagnosing executive function difficulties involves assessing a range of cognitive functions such as planning, problem-solving, organization, and self-control. Professionals use standardized assessment tools to evaluate these difficulties effectively. These tools help identify specific areas of executive function impairment and guide interventions.
Behaviour Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF)
The BRIEF is a widely used assessment tool for evaluating executive function difficulties in children and adolescents. It relies on behavior rating scales completed by parents, teachers, and the individuals themselves. The BRIEF provides valuable insights into the everyday behaviors related to executive function skills.
The Conners 3 is primarily used for assessing attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) but also includes measures of executive function. It helps identify the presence and severity of executive function difficulties in children and adolescents. The assessment is based on observations, interviews, and rating scales completed by parents, teachers, and the individuals themselves.
Barkley Deficits in Executive Functioning Scale (BDEFS) for Adults
The BDEFS is designed specifically for evaluating executive function difficulties in adults. It assesses various aspects of executive function, including working memory, self-regulation, and problem-solving. The scale provides useful information for diagnosis, treatment planning, and monitoring progress. This is the scale I use with my clients in the Power Up! Executive Function Playbook™
Comprehensive Executive Function Inventory (CEFI)
The CEFI is a comprehensive tool used to assess executive function difficulties in children and adolescents. It covers a wide range of executive function domains and provides insights into specific strengths and weaknesses. The CEFI helps professionals develop targeted interventions and monitor progress over time.
Executive functions are a set of cognitive processes that are responsible for regulating and controlling other cognitive processes. I have written about all of the executive function skills , with tips to improve the following areas; you can find them in the menu go to topics > executive function skills
Here are some of the common symptoms:
Inability to Sustain attention
People with executive dysfunction often struggle to concentrate on tasks or stay focused for extended periods. They might become easily distracted or lose interest in what they are doing. This can lead to difficulty completing tasks or meeting deadlines.
Difficulty Planning and Organizing
Planning and organizing are essential skills for managing daily life, but executive dysfunction can make these tasks difficult. People with this condition may struggle to plan ahead, prioritize tasks, or break down projects into manageable steps. They might also have trouble keeping track of deadlines or appointments.
Executive dysfunction can affect a person’s ability to make sound decisions. They might struggle to weigh the pros and cons of different options or consider all the necessary information before making a choice. This can lead to poor decisions that have negative consequences.
People with executive dysfunction may struggle with motivation and feel like they lack the energy or drive to complete tasks. They might procrastinate or avoid activities that require effort or concentration. This can lead to feelings of frustration, guilt, or shame.
Time Management Issues
Managing time effectively is an essential skill for success in school, work, and daily life. However, people with executive dysfunction may struggle to manage their time effectively. They might underestimate the time required to complete tasks (further reading: overcome ADHD time blindness) or become overwhelmed by deadlines and schedules.
Executive dysfunction can lead to forgetfulness or difficulty remembering important information. People with this condition might forget appointments, tasks, or deadlines. They might also struggle to recall details from conversations or meetings.
Overall, executive dysfunction can make daily life challenging, but there are strategies and treatments that can help manage symptoms. If you or someone you know is struggling with executive dysfunction, it’s important to seek professional help.
Executive dysfunction is a term used to describe difficulties with cognitive processes such as planning, decision-making, and multitasking. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease can lead to executive dysfunction. These conditions can cause damage to the brain, which can affect cognitive processes. Individuals with these conditions may experience difficulty with planning, initiating tasks, and completing tasks.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can also cause executive dysfunction. TBI can occur as a result of a blow to the head, such as in a car accident or a fall. Individuals with TBI may experience difficulty with attention, memory, and decision-making. The severity of executive dysfunction can vary depending on the extent of the injury.
Substance abuse, including alcohol and drug abuse, can damage the brain and lead to executive dysfunction. Individuals who abuse substances may experience difficulty with decision-making, impulse control, and planning. Substance abuse can also lead to other health problems that can exacerbate executive dysfunction.
Chronic stress can also cause executive dysfunction. Prolonged exposure to stress can lead to changes in the brain that can affect cognitive processes. Individuals who experience chronic stress may have difficulty with decision-making, attention, and memory. Chronic stress can also lead to other health problems that can exacerbate executive dysfunction.
Executive dysfunction can also be caused by genetics. Some individuals may inherit genes that increase their risk of developing executive dysfunction. These genes can affect the structure and function of the brain, leading to difficulties with cognitive processes.
Not sure if executive function challenges sabotage your life?
Well, I don’t mean to call you out but
A person with executive function deficit …
Has a hard time paying attention
Has difficulty with regulating self-control
Has trouble managing emotions
Has difficulty holding information in working memory
Has trouble switching easily from one activity to another
Has trouble getting started on tasks
Has problems organising their time and materials
Has difficulty keeping track of what they are doing
Has difficulty completing long-term projects
Has trouble with thinking before acting
Is easily distracted and often forgetful
Has trouble waiting their turn
Has problems remembering what they’ve been asked to do
So if this sounds like you…
In conclusion, Executive Dysfunction is a condition that affects many people and can cause a range of symptoms. These symptoms can include difficulty with planning, organization, and time management. Executive Dysfunction can be caused by a variety of factors, including brain injury, developmental disorders, and chronic illnesses. It is important to seek professional help if you think you or someone you know may be experiencing symptoms of Executive Dysfunction. With proper diagnosis and treatment, it is possible to manage the symptoms of Executive Dysfunction and improve overall quality of life. Remember that seeking help is a sign of strength, and there is no shame in asking for assistance when it is needed.
Ruth-Ellen ‘ It’s not just a limiting belief, it’s also Executive Function Deficit’ Danquah