Dr. Sheri's Blog
As a student, a mom, and a teacher, I've experienced many late nights spent cramming to get a project completed and turned in on time. Unfortunately, for individuals with executive function deficits, planning can be an area of great weakness. This lack of planning can result in leaving things to the last minute, or not getting started with a project at all because it just seems too overwhelming.
Project mapping is a method whereby sticky notes are used to identify the different components of a project.
Visual scales are terrific tools for helping young people with executive function challenges to see and understand the subtleties of everyday life. Clickhere
for a document with instructions on how to make a visual scale. And clickhere
for a short YouTube video showing how to make a visual scale.
Visual scales can be used in a variety of ways: to show voice or noise levels, to communicate state of mind, to indicate physical health, or to show proximity. Visual scales work by showing the current level in relation to the desired level, and by tracking progress toward the desired level.
Inmy last blog post
I wrote about the concept of mental flexibility, how it relates to executive function (EF), and gave some ideas for strategies you might use when working (or living) with someone who is not very flexible (mentally speaking).
Today I'd like to share my top three tips for a peaceful co-existence with your mentally inflexible student, child, spouse, friend, co-worker, boss, or parent. Please keep in mind that these tips come from my own personal experience, so they may or may not apply in your position.
I've never considered myself to be very flexible. In fact, when I was eight years old and taking ballet classes, my Russian ballet instructor was dismayed at how my young body simply refused to bend on command. I've found that doing yoga regularly can contribute to a more flexible body, but what can one do when the problem is an inflexible brain?
Last week I discussed executive function (EF), which is a set of cognitive functions that help us to be more mentally flexible, less impulsive, able to control our emotions, and capable of planning and problem solving.
Do you work with a
student, have a child, or live with someone who is disorganized, inflexible, impulsive, and who
struggles with planning and problem solving?
Did you know that these traits fall into a category of skills called executive functions? Your student, child, or significant other may find it difficult to achieve in school, follow
through with responsibilities at home, and/or interact appropriately in work
and community settings – not because of a lack of effort or desire to do well
but due to a lack of executive function (EF) skills.
“My child was not having any
success as she searched for an important paper that needed to be signed by me
and submitted to the school office. I
opened her backpack only to find that it looked like a bomb went off inside! There was so much stuff in there, including
paperwork that should have been shared with parents at home as well as
assignments that should have been turned in at school. Comments from some of
her teachers made sense now—‘She isn’t turning in any homework’. I know she is doing the work at home, because
she shows it to me after she finishes.
Check out this email I received from my co-author, Carol Burmeister:
I wanted to share a personal experience I had with
my grandson last week. I was helping him
with his homework, which included preparing for a presentation on Ronald Reagan
that he was expected to share in school on Friday. He did research on his topic online and
synthesized the information so that he could develop a presentation that
included his findings and supporting evidence.
He made strategic use of digital media and visual displays to enhance
understanding of his material.
When I think of Executive Function (EF) skills, I picture those movies in which a high-powered executive is followed around by an executive assistant who takes care of all the details. "Ma'am, your 9:00 is waiting in room B. You're conference call will begin at 9:45 and I'll make sure everyone is ready and waiting on the line. Tomorrow is Valentine's Day; I ordered a gift to be delivered to your husband at work and a flower arrangement to be delivered to your mother. I also wrote a thank you note to your mother-in-law for her birthday gift and sent that in the mail.
I know I said that my next blog would focus on the second of the three principles outlined in the Guiding Principles document from the U.S. Department of Education and I promise to get back to that, but I felt it was important to highlight another new document that is hot off the presses (does that still apply when it is in PDF? - perhaps, "hot off the digitizer" is more appropriate).
A couple of years ago, Carol Burmeister and I had the incredible experience of reviewing research articles to further the work of the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders as they seek to identify evidence-based practices for working with students with ASD.