What are Executive Function Skills?

skills Feb10th 2018

Certainly, you’ve heard of executive functioning, but what exactly is it? Executive functioning skills are the set of cognitive skills that regulate and control abilities and behaviors, such as motor skills, memory and attention. These skills also assist with helping to manage, organize, plan and retrieve information. When there is no pathology, the brain automatically executes these skills.

High Executive Function and Low Executive Function

High executive function encompasses a wide variety of skills like using the senses to gather information, implementing problem-solving strategies, initiating and stopping behavior and actions and anticipating possible consequences. The ability to initiate and stop actions may involve acting appropriately in a given situation. Managing time may include not procrastinating and understanding the consequences of not doing things in a timely manner.

If an individual has low executive function, it may be a challenge to plan and carry out tasks. Often, this type of individual is unable to stay on task and is just overwhelmed. These types of deficits may have comorbid issues, but often include diagnoses like depression, autism, attention deficit disorder and learning disabilities. These types of functioning deficits often run in families. Low executive function makes learning difficult, and there may even be a problem with verbal fluency. There may also be social problems in both children and adults who have low executive function. Because they don’t have the capability to think things out, they may make inappropriate comments and have difficulty interacting with others.

Working with a physical therapist can help increase low executive function. For children with low executive function, physical therapy will often include the use of toys. Toys like large hop balls are used in physical therapy to improve upper body strength and improve motor planning and coordination skills. Toys like the Jabbit might be used to improve attention, focus and motor planning. It’s an effective catch and toss game that a physical therapist may use. A physical therapist will also give ideas for game playing at home to improve low executive function, such as riding a scooter around the neighborhood or playing a game of cards.

If you suffer from low executive function or know someone who does, physical therapy just may be one of the keys to improving it. Learn to increase inattention, plan a before and after and engage better with others. Physical therapy is an effective treatment for low executive function according to the APTA.

Call More Than Words Therapy today and speak with our experts.



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