Executive Function Disorder: Definition, Symptoms & Treatment

Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

Did you know that executive functions help us plan, organize, and evaluate tasks? Learn more about executive function disorder, its symptoms, and treatments. Then test your knowledge with a quiz.

What is Executive Function Disorder?

Suppose that you are a Kindergarten teacher. At the beginning of your class, you are introduced to Sally, who is a transfer student. You notice that Sally has trouble completing the classroom assignments on time. When shown multiple ways to complete an addition problem, Sally has trouble switching between the strategies. During playtime, Sally struggles to complete even the simplest puzzles. You also notice that Sally has trouble following directions that require more than two steps. After observing Sally for a few more days and seeing similar patterns, you become concerned that Sally may have executive function disorder.

Students with executive function disorder may struggle with keeping up with their classmates.

Executive functions are a set of cognitive processes that give humans the ability to carry out complex behaviors that allow us to achieve future goals. Executive functions control our ability to evaluate a situation, figure out a plan for addressing the situation, organize actions that need to be taken, modify behavior in accordance, and carry out our plans in a timely manner.

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