Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Executive Function Issues

The executive function includes:

  • organization and planning abilities
  • memory
  • inhibition and impulse control
  • self reflection and self-monitoring
  • time management and prioritizing
  • understanding complex or abstract concepts
  • using new strategies

As children, these issues need to be considered and addressed particularly in school, and accommodations may be needed. There are some suggestions in my other blog http://myaspergerschild2.blogspot.com. These issues are not the fault of parenting, or the child's misbehavior or laziness, it is the brain's hard wiring, PERIOD. Its just the way they are.

It is not so easy to teach these skills, most of the time, they can't be taught. For school aged kids. their parents need to take on this responsibility to help with the executive skills, and maybe be replaced later in life by a wife(i.e., a friend of ours needs help with straightening and organizing his briefcase every night). A parent who provides support may be labeled as doing too much for the child,(as I have by certain ignorant teachers), but I have learned that without that help, my ASD child would not achieve the grades that reflect his abilities. Experts such as Tony Attwood, whom has studied ASD kids, suggest this is what we need to do as parents. These kids have enough on their plate already-so help them achieve their best and you will see what can happen! Just because it is over their heads, they shouldn't have to suffer. They need to go forward academically and you can help them to become successful and independent adult.

Throughout the years, I have heard many complaints from teachers. Jacob does not come prepared for class (no pencil, no book, no paper). One minute Jacob could have a a pencil in his hand, and the next minute it is gone. Send him across the hallway to turn in a paper, and the paper in his hand has vanished. An assignment is finished and put in his desk to return to after lunch and its missing. Lost library books are constant. Unfortunately he has spent many days indoor for recess or another form of punishment for this absent skill. Its frustration for not only Jacob but his classroom teacher.

At home I have to keep my home tidy. Everything has a place, and if an item is not in it's home, I get slightly unglued. Its all I can think about, I have to have my home in order before I can accomplish anything else ie, errands, lunch date, shop. However, I am able to organize. In fact its basically my hobby. When Jakes room becomes littered with his toys and things about, he gets distracted and annoyed. Unfortunately he also gets overwhelmed looking at the disorganization, and does not know where to begin in his room, he cannot associate what needs to go where, so I have to help him get started. Items often gets misplaced, and we spend quite a bit of time looking for things. He just cannot get the concept of putting things "in it's home" so he will be able to find it next time. Sure everyone misplaces their keys or cell phone occasionally, but this is on a much larger scale.

Executive skills are easy for most, but not for my Jacob. This is one area he needs serious assistance especially while in school.