Executive Functions and Classroom Behaviors by dffhrtcv3


									Parents and Professionals Advocating for Students (PAPAS)
The Disorganized Student: Strategies
     for Parents and Teachers
                                     Presented by:
                               Dr. Caren Baruch-Feldman

                                  Dr. Helene Walisever

                                Westchester Day School
                                     January 26, 2009
What Are Executive Functions and How is it Related to

   A student’s ability to manage their time,
    organize their paperwork, and numerous other
    day to day classroom activities are impacted by
    their executive functions.
   This presentation will explain the role of
    executive functions and offer practical strategies
    for parents and teachers to help the disorganized
What Is Executive Functioning?
   Executive Functioning refers to our ability to be
    able to make and carry out plans, direct our
    attention, focus and also control our internal states:
    our impulses and emotions and to be able to switch
    from one task to another.
   It is involved in processes such as planning,
    cognitive flexibility, abstract thinking, rule
    acquisition, initiating appropriate actions and
    inhibiting actions, and selecting relevant
People with Executive Functioning Problems have
Difficulties in 6 Major Domains: Activation, Focus,
      Effort, Emotions, Memory, and Action
Children with ADHD Have the Following Executive Functioning
On Demand Deficiencies
   Because internally driven production is much easier to
    accomplish than externally demanded production for
    children who have these difficulties their lack of production
    on demand often stands in stark contrast to their seemingly
    effortless production “when the spirit moves them”.
   The on-demand deficiencies observed by others are often
    attributed to negative personal characteristics such as being
   More and more however, neuroscientists are saying that
    these underachievers may suffer from neurological
    abnormalities, particularly in the FRONTAL LOBE.
Executive Functioning and the Brain
    Can’t Versus Won’t
                   “We are encouraging people to become involved in their own rescue.”

Remember rewards will not work if the child does not have the skill. Reward programs imply that
a child can do it if he/she wants to or is motivated enough to. This often leads away from
the realization that many children who do want to change their behavior don’t know what to do
to change it.
Kids Do Well If They Can…
   Behind every challenging behavior is an unsolved
    problem or lagging skill.
   Challenging behavior often occurs when the demands
    being placed on a kid exceed his capacity to respond
   One needs to determine what thinking skill the child is
    lacking so that the thinking skill can be taught.
   One needs to determine the triggers/antecedents: the
    what, who, when, and where.
   The goal is to develop a plan with the child that resolves the
    problem in a realistic and mutually satisfactory manner.
Executive Function and Development
                 Because EFs are developmental
                 in nature, natural maturational
                 delays and lags are observed.

                 Inter-individually, there is also
                 great variation relative to
                 chronological age.

                 The developmental progression
                 is from external to internal.
A Developmental Perspective for Interventions for
Children with Executive Skills Deficits
                               Children with
                               developmental executive
                               skill deficits also fit this
                               developmental progression
                               from external to internal.

                               Children with
                               underdeveloped executive
                               skills can be supported in
                               one of two ways:
                               1. By Intervening at the
                               Level of the Environment.
                               2. By Intervening at the
                               Level of the Person.
Intervening at the Level of the
Environment            Changing the Physical
                            or Social Environment
                            to Reduce Problems
                           Changing the Way Cues
                            are Provided To
                            Prompt the Child to
                            Perform Tasks or
                            Behave in Certain Ways
                           Changing the Nature of
                            the Task
Intervening at the Level of the Environment: Changing
the Physical or Social Environment to Reduce Problems
  Are there impediments to smooth executive
   functioning that can be removed or added to the
  Front versus back of the class.

  Moving them away from a window or near their friends
   or talkative students.
  Placing a student with weak skills with a very structured
  For impulsive children, placing them in smaller settings
   or under more adult supervision.
Intervening at the Level of the Environment: Changing the Way
Cues are Provided To Prompt the Child to Perform Tasks or
Behave in Certain Ways
   Verbal prompts or
    reminders, Visual Cues
   Schedules, Lists, Pager
    Systems or Alarms
   Provide time management
    aids such as calendars, clocks,
    timers, schedules
   Audio-taped cues that
    increase self monitoring.
    When the tape sounds the
    child is instructed to answer
    the question, “Was I paying
Intervening at the Level of the Environment: Changing
the Nature of the Task

Make the task shorter
Make the steps explicit
Make the task close ended instead of open ended (e.g., fill in the blanks, T/F,
   rather than essays, providing word banks)
Build in variety or choice with respect to the tasks to be done or the order in
   which the tasks are to be done
Offer bonus points for handing in homework and assignments on time instead of
   taking points away
Offer feedback and opportunities to revise writing assignments before grading
Offer students choices for ways to demonstrate content knowledge
Offer credit for all efforts to correct work
Offer opportunities to retake failed tests
Deduct no more than 5-10% of total points for minor detail errors
Teach note-taking, memory strategies, and study skills when necessary
Changing the Way Teachers Interact with Children
With Executive Skill Deficits
                             Changing the way adults interact with
                              them can often ameliorate the
                              negative impact of weak skills.
                             Remembering that you are the
                              biggest vehicle of change and a
                              model of good executive functioning.
                             Increasing the level of supervision,
                              support, and cueing are the easiest
                              way to impact executive functioning.
                             Increasing children’s involvement in
                              the decision making process.
                             Creating a balance between support
                              and acting as the child’s frontal lobe
                              with the ultimate goal of having the
                              child develop their own executive
                              skills sufficiently so they can function
Intervening at the Level of the Person
                       The goal of this strategy
                        is to change the child’s
                        capacity for using
                        his/her own executive
                       1. Teaching him/her
                        ways to develop or fine
                        tune executive skills that
                        he/she needs.
                       2. Motivating him/her to
                        use the executive skills
                        that he/she has but is
                        reluctant to employ.
Teaching Children Executive Skills: Teaching Thinking and
Organizational Skills in Addition to Content Knowledge
                                     Initially teachers become the frontal
                                      lobes for the child.
                                     After having walked the child
                                      through the process many times the
                                      teacher can then begin to reduce the
                                      level of supervision and support.
                                     The next step might be to begin to
                                      transfer the responsibility to the child
                                      by asking a more general question
                                      (e.g. “What do you need to do?”)
                                     The transfer is complete when the
                                      child reaches the point when he/she
                                      asks himself/herself “What do I need
                                      to do”? and either refers to the list
                                      independently without prompting
                                      from the parent or remembers the
                                      steps on the list and can perform the
                                      task without referring to the list
Motivating Children to Use Executive
   Aligning External Demands with Internal
    Commands. Using natural self-generated sources of
    motivation whenever possible.
   Motivating May Include: Praise and Recognition or
    Incentive Systems
Last Thoughts
                       Your child is not lazy.
   Think Win-Win:      You need to teach students
                        the importance of
                        responsibility, time
                        management, attention to
                        detail and other important
                       State the problem in
                        behavioral terms that indicate
                        a behavior that can then be
                       Learning is a process.
                       As much as possible try to
                        align external demands with
                        internal desires to maximize
Tips for Organizing Paper and Time

                       A coach teaches skills,
                        keeps the child
                        focused, offers
                       Form the team: your
                        spouse; your child
                       Who should coach?
                        You, spouse, or
                        professional organizer
    Help Your Child Accept Help
   Middle-schoolers want more independence but
    need more supervision.
   Don’t fall for “I don’t care” attitude.
   Motivate your child to be open to help: Use mild
    natural consequences
   Use small incentives
Collaborate With Your Child

   Child should help choose
    the goal.
   Goal should be small,
    short-term, likely to yield
   Goal should improve child’s
    quality of life
   Prioritize, choose top 3
   Do something fun with
    your child.
Develop A Plan

   The devil is in the details
   Review the plan nightly for a few minutes
   If the daily goal was not met, ask what got in the
    way. What helped it work on successful days?
   Don’t give up too soon, but revise plan if
    needed. It takes 3 weeks for new habits to form.
   Your child didn’t fail, the strategy failed.

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