top of page

What is it?

Executive functions (Cognitive skills) are the skills we need to remember information (memory), comprehend information, manage time, pay attention, concentrate, organise ourselves and problem solve.  We need them to multitask, to self-regulate, to know how to what is needed for a project and the steps to plan to undertake it.

Why is it a problem?

Children with poor executive function have trouble knowing how to start a task or recognise the steps involved in completing a task. This could be the steps needed to get ready for school, clean their room or do an assignment. Their difficulty with following multiple steps  and remembering  and organising and sequencing instructions and bits of memory all contribute to struggling at home or in the classroom or sports field.  Without these skills, children may be forgetful, disorganised, procrastinate, tune out or act up as they don’t know how to do the task by themselves and find it “all to hard”.

In additional, poor self-regulation mean these children may have difficultly controlling their emotions or behaviour (control impulses, limit distractions, cope with stress or task demands and calm themselves when upset). Many children with ADHD have poor executive function skills. Parents may be frustrated that their child is bright yet they struggle academically, continually procrastinate, or seem unable to follow through on their homework or chores.  

How can OT help?

Occupational Therapy works on a multi-pronged approach for executive function difficulties. To help with self-regulation, we may use the Alert Program or the 5 Zones Program to help the child recognise their feelings and manage them appropriately. We will use checklists and visual aids and written steps to break down complex tasks into step by step instructions and simplify their environments the child is not overwhelmed.


 We will also work on increasing their short to long term memory through practising increasing difficult combinations and using colours and other aids to help retain information.  Depending on the child’s age we may teach strategies such as goal setting, mind mapping, memory aids and increasing self-perception awareness.  Many of these children struggle with self-esteem due to feeling constantly unable to meet the demands on them or being teased and there we will work on their self-identity and social interaction tips, using either the Talkabout Program or a CBT workbook, depending on their age.  

Please reload

bottom of page