If this is happening regularly to you or your student you may be experiencing Executive Functioning Disorder. What is executive functioning? It is an important set of mental skills for self regulation including paying attention, organizing, planning, starting and finishing tasks, managing emotions, managing time....Basically it is managing your brain. The skills involved directly are working memory, cognitive flexibility and self control or inhibition. We are not born with these skills. They are developed throughout our lifetime and reach their full development, in most people, at about the age of 25-27. About 90% of students with ADHD have difficulty in more than one of these areas.
It is important to do a thorough assessment to determine where the weaknesses lie and where are the strengths. The strengths will be used to compensate for the weaknesses as the process of development progresses. Once the determination is made of the needs, treatment involves use of some or all of the following strategies:
Set high expectations and hold the student accountable.
Use rewards - external motivation to recognize improvements.
Teach the use of positive self statements, visualization techniques and verbalization.
Show support - even when they mess up.
Teach time management with exterior prompts on clocks, timers, phones, etc.
Compensate for working memory deficits through the use of sticky notes, journals, lists, electronic reminders, etc.
Using frequent breaks throughout a period of time when executive functioning skills are being taxed - taking tests, finishing projects.
When executive functioning skills are in high demand, increase sugar levels - hard candy, sipping drinks with sugar, etc. This gives fuel to the frontal lobe of the brain.
Increase physical exercise throughout the day. This increases the neurotransmitters and improves focus.
Lower generalized stress with relaxation techniques.