When I first heard the term Executive Functioning I thought "What is THAT? Of course ADHD people have bad executive functioning, I can't even find a matching pair of socks, never mind run a company!
So, I googled it and found out that executive function isn't something the CEO of a company does. It is how EVERYBODY functions, to do everything they do- everyday. From planning dinner, to knowing to wash the laundry before you dry it, to estimating how long it will take you to get ready for work in the morning, how we express emotions, how we remember things...everything you and I do, requires executive function.
These set of functions of the brain continuously work together, very fast and without conscious effort.They help us manage many tasks of daily life.
These functions show up in basic forms in young children as they become more independent and begin to do things for themselves and as the brain matures throughout childhood, adolescence and early adulthood, they gradually become more complex. the maturity of our executive functioning is how we essentially mature through our lives. A child of 2 has less executive functioning than a child of 10, and the 10 year old compared to a 15 year old, etc etc. Science shows that human brains continue to mature in executive functioning well into our mid 20's.
People with ADHD Have a Dysfunctional Executive Functioning
Everyone has occasional impairments in their executive functions, but people with ADD experience much more difficulty in development and use of these functions compared to others of the same age and developmental level do without ADHD do.
Research shows that a child with ADHD can usually have an executive functioning level of a child up to 5 years younger than their age. So a teenager of 15 with ADHD may have the executive functioning skills level of a 10 year old in some areas.
But, even those with severe ADHD and poor EF can have some activities where their executive functions work very well. So, that 15 year old may have constant difficulty with ADHD symptoms in most areas of their life, but when it comes to a few special interests like playing sports/video games or playing an instrument, doing art or building things, their ADHD symptoms are absent.
This phenomenon of “can do it here, but not most anyplace else” makes it look like ADHD is a simple problem of lacking willpower or laziness; but it isn’t. These impairments of executive functions are usually due to inherited problems in the chemistry of the brain’s management system.
Dr. Thomas Brown of Yale University studies Executive Functions extensively in ADHD people. He found comparisons between the ADHD-diagnosed and non ADHD participants in his study in each age group showed EF impairments that can be recognized and divided into six areas of executive functions.
The Brown Model of Executive Functions Impaired in ADD-ADHD
Within more than 25 years of research with children, adolescents and adults who have ADD/ADHD, Dr. Brown developed an expanded model to describe the complex cognitive functions impaired in ADD/ADHD. His model describes the executive functions areas I list below:
In addition, people with ADHD often complain that they cannot pull out of their memory, the information they have learned when they need it. This is the area at work when an ADHD student's brain goes blank during a test.
there is real neurological science behind Executive Function impairment in ADHD and it is complex and multi-faceted
I have learned a LOT from Dr Thomas Brown's books and he is considered a true pioneer in our growing understanding of ADHD. If you are interested in reading more in depth information on ADHD and Executive functioning, you can purchase his books on amazon through the links below.
If you are only going to buy one book,I highly recommend "Smart But Stuck"
If you have issues concentrating like I do, get the audiobook version by clicking on my amazon affiliate link here: Smart but Stuck: Emotions in Teens and Adults with ADHD:The Audiobook
Dr. Brown is a clinical psychologist who received his Ph.D. from Yale University and maintains a private practice in Hamden, Connecticut specializing in assessment and treatment of high-IQ children, adolescents and adults with ADHD and related problems. He is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine and is Associate Director of the Yale Clinic for Attention and Related Disorders.For more information on his work with ADHD and Executive Function you can check out Dr Thomas brown's website here
This article was written on Feb 21st, 2015 by SuperADDmom and provided for informational purposes only, as a resource for www.superaddmom.com-Copyright 2015.
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