Executive function is a combination of mental processes that will connect present action with past experiences. People often use executive function when planning, organizing or strategizing different activities in order to remember details and pay close attention to the activity. If you don’t have good executive function, you will have difficulties with many areas of your life which show up as weakness, lack of memory, and poor decision making. It is considered a learning disability when you don’t have proper executive function and can be genetic. It is often shown when someone is a child and may continue throughout their adult life.
How Executive Function Affects Learning
People use executive function all day, every day, even when they don’t realize it. It is used for school, work, and at home. With executive function, you are able to keep track of time and finish your work on time, keep track of more than one thing at a time, make plans and stick to them, arrive on time with proper organizational skills, be able to use past knowledge in current discussions, engage in group dynamics and conversations, wait to speak until you are called on and remember what you were going to say, ask for help, find information when you need it, change your minds, make corrections while writing, reading or thinking, and evaluate ideas.
Warning Signs of Executive Function Issues
There are some ways to find out if you are having problems with executive function. This includes not being able to plan projects, not comprehending how much time it takes to complete a project, not retaining information when doing something such as remembering a number when dialing a phone, having issues with generating ideas on your own, not being able to initiative tasks or activities, not retrieving information from your memory or being able to memorize anything, not able to tell stories, any types of communication struggles, or not being able to arrive somewhere on time.
Treatment Options for Executive Function
There is no single treatment for executive function problems, but different methods you can try for improving memory and the way your brain functions. General strategies include doing activities with a step-by-step to-do list, using visual organizational aides, using organizing tools like watches with alarms or time organizers, reviewing to-do lists several times a day, asking for written directions when going somewhere for the first time. Other things that might help are breaking down long projects into little time frames of things to be completed, using management software or visual calendars, writing down due dates for every assignment you’re given, minimizing clutter and organizing your work space. If you work closely with others, ask to have your belongings separate from theirs.