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How do you teach Executive Functioning to a rigid child?

Updated: Jun 12

Today I spoke to a mom of a 10 year old who is struggling in school. This student, Ben, is a bright boy who had been diagnosed with ADHD and a processing speed disorder. Ben’s reading, writing and math fluency scores are below his achievement in each area. While Ben has the accommodation of extra time, it doesn’t help him, as he won’t use the extra time available to him.

Ben has trouble organizing his thoughts, so he has a difficult time starting a task. Additionally, his working memory skills are weak making it hard for him integrate new ideas with previous knowledge. Ben would rather do things the way that he has always done them which makes it hard to teach him new strategies. Ben tends towards having a meltdown when he doesn’t like someone or something.

My suggestions to Ben’s mom were:

  1. Continue working with their medical doctor for interventions for ADHD.

  2. Start with an educational coach or specialist who understands executive functioning and rigid thinking.

  3. Begin the intervention with full homework support and slowly begin pointing out areas where a plan would help him.

  4. Developing Ben’s awareness of his thought processes through discussions of what he is thinking, along with using metacognitive strategies will allow him to begin to build the skills needed to begin new tasks. The metacognitive strategies can also be designed to help him with his behavioral regulation.

  5. Once Ben is comfortable with his new helper, the educator can begin using the STOP, THINK, PLAN, DO mantra to help Ben begin to figure out how to approach a task. Learn more about using this mantra and building flexible thinking skills at Flexible Thinking

stop think plan do jpeg

As Ben begins to learn how to approach a task and becomes willing to consider options that will help him learn better, he will be ready to learn the executive functioning skills of organization and time management.

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