Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Gifted and Problems in Executive Function

Rendering of human brain.Image via Wikipedia Just because you are smart, doesn't mean that your brain is wired to do some of the basic things that other people can do automatically.  Not only developmentally challenged children, but also gifted children can struggle with basic organization skills. 

I found a good article on 

Tips for Parents: Executive Functioning at Home and School

Weaknesses in EF tend to affect all areas of gifted kids’ lives, including some of what might seem like basic self-care or home life tasks, and can be extremely frustrating for parents and siblings. In general, when something is chronically frustrating to family members, it is because:
  1. We’re asking for the wrong change.
  2. We’re not asking for enough change.
  3. We’re asking for too much change all at once.
In order to know which change to ask for, it very much helps to break the task down and figure out which aspects are working and which ones aren’t. People often speak of EF as if it were a single entity, but, in fact, there are many different facets to it. A child may have strong skills in one area, but struggle in others. There is no official consensus list of executive functions; the following list is compiled from several different sources:
  • inhibition of impulses, stopping to choose an appropriate response
  • previewing likely consequences of action (both short- and long-term)
  • holding and manipulating information in working memory
  • sustaining attention despite distraction or fatigue
  • planning, both short- and long-term
  • saliency determination, figuring out which details are important
  • task initiation – getting started on a chosen task
  • depth of processing, choosing a level that is not too superficial or too consuming
  • tempo control, maintaining an appropriate speed and rhythm for work
  • development of automaticity, making a skill routine so it takes no conscious effort
  • satisfaction, perceiving and deriving pleasure from reinforcers
  • organization, both internal (thoughts) and external (materials)
  • time management – predicting how long things will take, planning, and acting
  • flexibility – adapting strategies or plans in response to mistakes or new information
  • self-monitoring – observing one’s own performance and comparing it to standards
  • emotional self-regulation – being aware of and managing feelings
  • metacognition – being aware of one’s own thought processes

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