Executive Functioning & ADHD

Instructor: Jennifer Moon
This lesson provides a quick overview of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) with a focus on how ADHD may affect one's executive functioning skills.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, also known as ADHD, is a cognitive disorder. Most people are diagnosed with ADHD at a young age, because of the easily observed symptoms they exhibit. Symptoms often include inability to attend (perhaps not being able to sit and pay attention in class for the same amount of time as a typical peer) and hyperactivity/impulsivity (perhaps not being able to wait in line for a turn and jumping ahead of others).

Due to the fact that ADHD is a cognitively-based disorder, there is currently no cure for it. Typically, one who is diagnosed with ADHD can expect to live with the disorder for the remainder of his or her life. It is also interesting to note that, diagnoses of ADHD have been increasing over the past decade. There are differing theories regarding this increase, including: technology exposure, diet, and genetic factors. While the right combinations of medications, behavioral therapy, and other interventions help ADHD to be well-controlled, the greatest challenge for people who suffer from ADHD is impairment of executive functioning skills.

Executive Function

What Are Executive Functioning Skills?

Executive functioning skills, which take place in the frontal lobe of the brain, are the biggest challenge for people with ADHD. Executive functioning skills refer to a person's ability to plan, multi-task, execute difficult problems, organize properly, and to simply complete a job. Executive functioning is the highest level of a human's cognitive skills, while on the other hand, simply being conscious is the most basic function. What is so challenging for a person with ADHD is that typically, he or she has average (or above average) intelligence; however, the inability to plan, multi-task, organize, and complete otherwise simple tasks impacts his or her likelihood of success without proper supports.

How to Provide Support

Medication and behavioral support strategies can help control general ADHD symptoms. Furthermore, people with ADHD must also learn a variety of tactics to compensate for their impaired executive function skills. Teachers and parents of school-aged students should find a variety of techniques and avenues to help them find out how to best compensate.

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