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HOW EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS AFFECT OUR STUDENT’S SOCIAL SKILLS

 
Functioning {EF} skills are the skills we need to complete everyday tasks.  They are like the air traffic controller of our brains, coordinating everything we do, say and think. 
 
We need EF skills to pursue our goals and to live independent lives.
 
 

WHAT ARE THE EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING SKILLS?

 
The most commonly noted EF skills are:
 
  • Planning
  • Organization
  • Task Initiation
  • Time Management
  • Working Memory
  • Metacognition
  • Self Control
  • Attention
  • Flexibility
  • Perseverance

 

 

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SOME ADDITIONAL SKILLS THAT ARE CONSIDERED TO BE EF SKILLS ARE:

  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Emotional Control
  • Impulse Control
  • Self Monitoring
  • Prioritizing
  • Decision Making
  • Perspective Taking
 
Wow!  As you can see, there are A LOT of skills involved in Executive Functioning.
 
When a student is challenged in EF, is it any wonder that they would struggle both socially and academically?!
 
There are a lot of articles about the academic challenges related to EFD {Executive Functioning Disorder}.  But for the purposes of this post, I will be focusing mainly on the implications EF challenges have on Social Skills.
 
 
Why Work On Executive Functioning Skills?
 
Besides the obvious, we should work on EF skills because students who struggle with EF, often get overlooked, misunderstood, or have inappropriately high expectations placed on them. 
 
It is very easy for us to have unrealistic expectations of neurodevelopmentally different kiddos, because we often can’t see the disability.  These kiddos behavior is  often mistaken for defiant, rude or disrespectful.
 
Experts such as Dr. Russell Barkley suggest that kids with ADHD, for example, are 30% younger in their EF skills.
 
Therefore, it is vitally important that we set expectations based on developmental age, not, chronological age. 
 
 
 How Do EF Challenges Affect Our Students Socially?
 
  • Challenges working in pairs or groups
  • Challenges sharing spaces and materials with others
  • Challenges remembering information such as names, birthdays, interests of peers
  • Challenges listening and engaging in conversations
  • Challenges inhibiting behavior
  • Challenges focusing and attending on others
  • Challenges starting and stopping activities and games
  • Challenges when rules of games bend or change
  • Challenges being flexible with peers, giving in to what they want
  • Challenges finishing games or projects
  • Challenges being on time
  • Challenges problem solving
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Physical outbursts: grabbing, pushing, etc. 
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Giving up in the middle of a game/activity
  • Forgetting the directions of a game/activity
  • Slow to start, keeping peers waiting
 
And sooo much more!

 I hope this information helps you to support your special learners in improving their executive functioning skills and in turn, their social relationships.

 

Thanks So Much and Happy Teaching!

Cindy ~Socially Skilled Kid

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