Executive Functioning

What is Executive Functioning?

Executive functioning refers to the skills that allow us to organize, plan, problem solve, inhibit responses, transition between tasks, and monitor work and other behaviors.

What causes executive dysfunction?

There is no single cause for executive dysfunction. The most common reason for a child to struggle with executive functioning is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). There is a genetic predisposition for ADHD and thus a predisposition for executive dysfunction as well. There are also numerous medical conditions, such as traumatic brain injury or stroke which can cause various executive functioning impairments.

How do I know if my child has impaired executive functioning?

Difficulties with executive functioning can negatively influence all areas of life including academic performance, social skills, and/orExecutive Functioning home life. Typically an individual with executive dysfunction presents with a discrepancy between their cognitive aptitude and their academic performance. This is frustrating for teachers, parents, but most importantly for the individual. As it relates to social engagements these individuals sometimes do not demonstrate appropriate self-awareness and therefore may not realize that their behaviors are negatively impacting those around them.

Executive functioning can be observed in the tasks your child completes throughout the day. For example: Does your child have a set plan for a morning routine, or is it chaos on a daily basis? Is her room organized, so that anyone walking in knows where items should be? What about her backpack or locker? Does he forget to turn in homework assignments that he has completed? Does the child forget to write down daily assignments or forget to bring home necessary materials? Does the child struggle planning activities with friends?

How can I help treat my child’s executive functioning?

There are a few things to keep in mind as you work to help your child with impaired executive functioning.

  1. It is important to work within a real world setting. Focus on steps to help them clean their room more independently or complete their bed time routine.
  2. Simplify your child’s environment. You may have to work slowly and focus on only one or two steps at a time. Allowing them to be successful will motivate them.
  3. Don’t only focus on issues at home. Get help from others in your child’s life such as teachers, coaches, etc. The people that are in contact with your child the most should be working as a team to help your child with his or her executive functioning.

Also, keep in mind that all treatments should be customized to fit your child’s needs, so don’t give up. What worked for one child might not work for another.

Our approach to executive functioning at North Shore Pediatric Therapy

At North Shore Pediatric Therapy, we take a multidisciplinary approach to treating executive functioning impairment. The first step is typically a consultation or evaluation with a neuropsychologist to identify your child’s strengths and weaknesses in the area of executive function. Following the evaluation your child would most likely be referred to work with either an Applied Behavior Analyst, Occupational Therapist or Academic Specialist who is trained in executive functioning; in conjunction with you, and your child’s school/teacher, the therapist would assist in developing the most appropriate strategies for your child. Clinical treatment would focus on introducing the strategies to your child, practicing strategies in the clinic and then helping them to generalize for use in other settings.

Client Reviews (20)

My son has been receiving ABA at NSPT4Kids for a year and a half. The staff is extremely knowledgeable, caring, and understanding. They have been great working with our insurance company. My son has completely opened up. He now seeks his older sister to play – something he never did for the first four and a half years of his life. He looks at me when he talks to me. We have conversations. It is amazing. I never would have thought ABA could do this. I am so thankful for NSPT4Kids!

Lisa

I completed my first FWII placement at NSPT in Bucktown. I had such a fantastic learning experience that truly helped me to grow my skills and experience. The staff at Bucktown was extremely welcoming and happy to teach, answer questions and allow me to observe outside my discipline to make this an even more well-rounded experience. The orientation/mentor program is great for students and makes heading into FW a much easier transition that sets you up for success. I had a great working relationship with my clinical instructor who helped me develop my treatment planning, documentation and intervention skills as well as teaching me a great deal about being a practicing OT in general! Overall, I couldn’t ask for anything more from a FWII experience!

Rachel

My husband and I were so impressed with our experience at your clinic. From my first phone call to NSPT, to the parent meetings with Dr. Stasi, to my son’s evaluation day and the follow-up feedback meeting, we felt supported and “heard” by everyone. We had anxieties about having our 4 year old evaluated – it was such uncharted territory for us – but we couldn’t be happier with the experience and with the results. We now feel like we have a more comprehensive understanding of our son’s strengths and weaknesses. We feel like we know better as parents how to help him reach his full potential. We also are happy that we can pass along Dr. Stasi’s narrative to our son’s teachers and therapists so that they can have a better understanding of his specific needs. Everyone at NSPT held our hands throughout the process, kept us in the loop, and returned calls/emails in a timely manner. Thank you for a great experience!

Anne J

I completed my Level IIA Fieldwork at North Shore Pediatric Therapy in Bucktown. I am so impressed by the organization of the student program and its emphasis on the reflection process. This reflection process has helped me develop clinical reasoning skills that are significant to treating clients. I also felt surrounded by a professional body of therapists that took on a mentor role, especially my supervisor. The gradual increase in case load was challenging yet manageable, providing me with client-centered intervention experience that will apply to my future endeavors as a therapist. Thank you, North Shore.

Amanda

Our son Ian has been having sensory issues for a while & we were very pleased with the work that Ms. Dawn had been doing with him to help him deal with his processing issues. We were sad to leave NSPT due to a move out-of-state.

Stephanie Long

I completed my level II OT fieldwork at NSPT and it was a really positive experience. There is a multidisciplinary staff that are all eager to welcome and assist in the learning process. It is a really great location to learn about diverse applications of pediatric OT. All of the staff are passionate about what they do and have creative and exciting ideas to motivate children as they work on a wide variety of skills. NSPT is a wonderful placement for developing skills for pediatric OT and I am grateful to have had this experience!

Pnina

Our son has been in the ABA program at North Shore for almost two years now. The gains his therapists have made with him have been without a shadow of a doubt wonderful and remarkable. Everything they do in session, we always reinforce at home to help him continue his gains. The ABA therapists are always quick to update the kids individual program to continue to challenge the kids, even if they are having a rough time that session. We are grateful of what North Shore has done for our son both past, present and moving into the future. As we get ready to send our son into Kindergarten, the North Shore ABA team gets a lot of credit helping to make this milestone happen for him. I highly recommend North Shore for all of their services.

Tom J

We are incredibly fortunate to have Mrs. Ellyn’s influence. Even though we have only been here for 6 months, I am seeing a more able, more confident child. Mrs. Ellyn not only has helped gross and fine motor control, coordination and motor planning, but has helped set boundaries and attainable goals for my child. It is great to see him grow so strong.

Heather

I completed my final level II OT fieldwork at NSPT and had one of the best clinical experiences I could have expected. The entire staffs’ level of investment in their work motivated me to be creative while also working hard to deliver evidence-based research interventions. The successful stories I often heard from parents regarding their child’s growth reflects the passion and love each clinician at NSPT has for their job. I am so sad to have to say goodbye to the staff and the kids I’ve been working with for the past three months, and can’t express how grateful I am to have been placed here!

Mary Kate Mulry

My 5-year-old son has been receiving OT therapy at NSPT for 2 1/2 years. Could not be happier with his progress. Thank You NSPT!

Barnaby Wilde

My son (now 4) has been receiving OT at North Shore Pediatric Therapy in Glenview for almost a year. He receives a wide array of OT services including feeding therapy, core strengthening, fine-motor work, and balance activities. It is very encouraging to see the progress he has made and how much he enjoys his sessions. The OT truly listens to our concerns and provides us with plenty of resources and activities that we can work on at home to keep his progress going.

Jennifer N

North Shore Pediatric Therapy (NSPT) has changed our lives for the better! My six year old son was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder when he was 3. Getting through a day was a difficult journey for the entire family until we began to get Occupational Therapy services (OT) for him. We see Ellyn, an OT at the Highland Park office, and she acts not only as an advocate for my son helping him strengthen his areas of weakness, but also as a great support system for me (mom). The entire NSPT team has been fantastic. I highly recommend them!

Amy

Our son Ian received two evaluations by Dr. Greg Stasi & we were very impressed with the thoroughness of the evaluations & the time Dr. Stasi took to explain the results. It was extremely beneficial in determining what treatment Ian would receive both at NSPT & in school.

Stephanie Long

Our daughter is currently 3.5 years old. Since birth, we knew something wasn’t quite right. Her colic lasted nearly a year and when the colic broke, whining/crying/severe tantrums began. She was evaluated at 3 and 24 months by an OT for potential sensory processing issues and both came back inconclusive. We had her seen by a behavioral specialist as well as a developmental pediatrician. No one was able to help our struggled daughter or us. Until Dec 2013 when we came to North Shore Pediatric Therapy in Highland Park….we met Ellyn Kearney. She understood our daughter before she even met her. Ellyn has changed our lives and how we live day to day. Our daughter suffered from severe sensory processing issues despite being a healthy beautiful child. The progress noted from my child is remarkable. Thank you NSPT and Thank you Ellyn.

Carrie

My 6 year-old son was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism/PPD-NOS around age 3 1/2 years old. After searching and looking for Occupational Therapy services we started coming to North Shore Pediatric Therapy in April 2013. We began seeing Shannon Phelan here at North Shore Pediatric Therapy in Bucktown for his OT services. We have seen a tremendous amount of growth in his OT Fine & Gross Motor skills: holding a pen/pencil, writing his letters and numbers and working on his Sensory Processing Integration. We are extremely pleased with our Occupational Therapist, Shannon and the entire North Shore Pediatric Staff. I would highly recommend coming here if you need Occupational Therapy services for your child.

Melinda V

I completed my Level II Fieldwork at NSPT in Bucktown in 2011. From the moment I walked in on the first day it was clear that NSPT created a supportive environment that would further my development as a professional and as an occupational therapist. The sense of community created a comfortable environment to collaborate with other disciplines. Not only was my clinical instructor invested in my learning, but so was the whole staff. Through this experience at NSPT, I found my passion for working within pediatrics. I increased my clinical knowledge, clinical reasoning and confidence during this time. I would highly recommend this site for occupational therapy students looking for a well-rounded and challenging experience.

Lauren

I completed my second Level 2 fieldwork experience at North Shore Pediatric Therapy and could not have enjoyed my time more. I learned invaluable lessons about the world of pediatric occupational therapy all in a warm and welcoming environment created by staff members of all disciplines. I would highly recommend this fieldwork experience to anyone interested in working with children.

Lindsey

I was able to complete my Level 2 occupational therapy fieldwork at NSPT. It was a great experience! I was challenged educationally and clinically, and as a result came out of the experience with a greater knowledge about sensory integration, fine and gross motor skills, and how to evaluate and treat a wide variety of children in an outpatient setting. My supervisor and all of the staff made me feel welcome and a part of the team!

Kim

I completed my second Level 2 fieldwork at North Shore Pediatric Therapy in Glenview and Bucktwon in the Spring of 2012. I enjoyed my experience so much that I am now an employee at NSPT! Overall, I had a very positive yet challenging learning experience that supported growth in my clinical and professional skills. Not only did I grow my OT skills and knowledge but I was able to learn about and collaboate with many different disciplines including social work, physcial therapy, speech language pathology, neuropsychology, etc. NSPT is able to provide students a unique experience to learn how to treat the whole child to help them function at their fullest potential!

Sara Probasco

I had the opportunity to complete my Level 1C fieldwork experience at North Shore Pediatric Therapy Bucktown. I was incredibly impressed by the knowledge and professionalism of all the staff and their work with the clients and their parents. It was a wonderful learning experience for me and I highly recommend this site for any level 1 or 2 OT student interested in pediatrics. I wish I could have stayed longer.

Chelsea

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