We freely toss around terms or jargon that don’t immediately translate to the average person on the street.

“My child has ADHD.” “I’m sure she’s dyslexic.”   “Since preschool, he’s shown sensory integration issues.” “Well, you know he’s on ‘the spectrum.’” (Wait, which spectrum are we talking about here?)


While we use these terms casually, do we really understand there is no definitive test, no X-ray, no blood test, no CT scan that definitively diagnose these syndromes (and many others).

“Executive Function Disorder” is another one of the syndromes talked about in cocktail parties as people chat about their children’s issues.

A primary mission of ours is to turn such jargon into images that parents can get their mind around to help understand them in down-to-earth terms.

This week we’ve had a run on children diagnosed with “ADHD” and said to have “executive function deficits.”

What does that mean?

In reality what it means is the child has very little that is steering his/her boat, that is they have very floppy rudders and are floating out in the water waiting for the wind to blow one way or the other.

Common characteristics include:

  • Does not get started on his/her own.
  • Does not initiate activities like homework.
  • Does not sustain “mental effort.”
  • Frustrates easily.
  • Does not readily follow multi-step directions.
  • Is easily bored.

Even though these children are readily and frequently put on stimulant medication, the stimulants can only have so much impact.  When working well, they provide the child with a percentage better capacity to pay attention and focus.  That’s the benefit of stimulants.   By the evening the effects of the stimulants have typically worn off.

When a child is showing signs of these issues of ‘executive functioning,” understand that there is no “fix” in the typical sense of the word.

The closest “fix” is effective management.

To effectively manage, the parent(s) need to take an inventory of how things are characteristically  managed at home.  Decisions are then made as to if it should be business as usual or whether changes need to be made.

As part of taking inventory, some questions to ask include the following:

  • What messages have we given our child (consciously or unconsciously)? (e.g., “You can play video games and go on YouTube” freely without earning the privilege, even if not stated so directly.)
  • Are we doing too much? (i.e., Do we do more than the child when it comes to school work?)
  • Are we in the yell and punish cycle? (Is yelling our go-to strategy?
  • Have we really clearly stated our expectations and explained the cost of not meeting them? (Believe it or not, most parents have not, even though they think they have.)
  • Are we too soft and accommodating? (This is a  big culprit.)
  • Are we overly rigid and too demanding? (Leading to anger and passive aggressive avoidance on the child’s part.)

As a first step before taking action with your child, these and many other questions should be answered.  Sure, there are all kinds of treatments out there willing to take your $3500 – $4,000 (the common range) guaranteed to cure what ails the child without starting with these questions.

However, I remain ever-skeptical.  Before you plunk down a large amount of money to fix your child, start with taking an inventory. Start with yourself.

Copyright, 2019 www.shutdownlearner.com
Questions or topics email Dr. Selznick.  Not in the South Jersey area? For a free 15 Minute Consultation, contact Dr. Selznick: email – rselznick615@gmail.com

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