You can learn to overcome Executive Function Disorder through deliberate action and consistent practice.

Executive Functioning Coaching seeks to highlight the skill development process of learning to ‘future plan.’ From seeing the patterns in life to seeing “what done looks and feels like,” our coaches help develop those lagging skills in working memory, task planning, temporal awareness, spatial awareness, and episodic memory.

A student is having an academic coaching session to supercharge their executive function.

Executive function and intentional self-regulation skills provide critical support for learning and development

Just as an air traffic control tower at a busy airport manages the arrivals and departures of multiple planes on multiple runways, executive functioning skills allow us to plan, prioritize, problem-solve, filter distractions, and switch gears. As kids age and reach developmental milestones and expectations, more executive functions come online. Over time, these cognitive processes increase in complexity and are shaped through personal experience.

For many people, executive function deficits are developmentally delayed and need more time than typical to develop and mature

These lagging skills can be problematic and manifest in self-regulation challenges in thinking, emotion, and behavior. You can learn to manage and overcome these deficits through deliberate practices, using practical and strength-based tools and strategies. Many symptoms of Executive Function Disorder (EFD) and ADHD are closely intertwined; however, it is essential to note that ADHD is a medical condition. Executive Function Disorder is a developmental delay in the brain's self-management system, particularly with cognitive processes like working memory, impulse control, and cognitive flexibility. Depending on the severity of ADHD, people can exhibit differing executive function deficits. These may include:

  • Time blindness: a delay in temporal awareness or feeling the passage of time
  • Chronic Procrastination: pushing meaningful priorities off until the last minute
  • Future planning: an inability to plan for and remember future events
  • Non-Verbal Working Memory: holding intentions in your mind as a compass to guide behavior
  • Self regulations: trouble controlling emotions or impulses
  • Metacognition: Difficulty analyzing, problem-solving, or processing information

What are executive functions? Dr. Murphy explains.

An executive functioning coach is a professional who helps people to improve their executive functioning skills. These skills include planning, organizing, time management, task initiation, and task completion. People with executive functioning difficulties often have trouble completing tasks on time, keeping track of information, and staying organized. An executive functioning coach can help people develop strategies for improving their executive functioning skills related to life’s intentions and priorities. This may involve teaching organizational techniques, helping to set up a daily and weekly routine, and providing positive support and accountability. In addition, executive functioning coaches can benefit people with ADHD or other conditions that impact executive functioning.

an creative animation showcasing the relationship between self-regulation and executive functioning skills

The Relationship Between Self-regulation and Executive Function Skills

Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child has the best presentation of the relationship between self-regulation and executive functioning skills. This model depicts the dynamic relationship between these two constructs and shows attention’s important role in activating executive functions. Executive function and self-regulation skills rely on three brain functions: working memory, mental flexibility, and self-control. These functions are highly interrelated, and the successful application of executive function skills requires them to operate in harmony with each other. Each type of executive function skill draws on elements of the others.

Working Memory

Governs our ability to retain and manipulate distinct pieces of information over short periods of time.

Mental Flexibility

Helps us to sustain or shift attention in response to different demands or to apply different rules in different settings.

Self-control

Enables us to set priorities and resist impulsive actions or responses.

Dr. Murphy on the relationship between Executive Functioning and Self Regulation skills. Harvard University, Center of the Developing Child.

Overcoming an executive function disorder requires consistent and deliberate practice and training. It starts with assessing your EFD strengths and weaknesses, and then developing a skill development plan to grow your strengths and improve the weaknesses that are impacting your life. Working with an Executive Functioning Coach on research-based processes and methods, clients begin experiencing growth, progress, and outcomes that align with their true intentions, interests, and goals. Whether it is organizational or future planning strategies, clients form a more robust internal and external process of self-regulating their thinking and behaviors toward their future selves. Sarah Ward and Kristen Jacobsen, who created the 360 Thinking Model, note the importance of developing the language and processes in executive functioning. Building these skills begins with repeated practice in “seeing the future, saying the future, feeling the future, and playing with the future so as to effectively ‘plan and go’ towards the future” (Barkley).

A coach giving Treatments for Executive Dysfunction to coachee

Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions? Get in touch or look at the FAQ section.

Discover answers to your Executive Function Disorder queries – from understanding symptoms to exploring effective strategies.

Have more question in mind? Get In Touch with me.

  • Is Executive Function Disorder the same as ADHD?

    Executive Function Disorder (EFD) is a condition often associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), though the two do not have identical symptoms. Executive function has to do with a person’s ability to organize and plan, while ADHD involves primarily difficulty regulating inattention and impulsivity.

  • Is Executive Dysfunction always ADHD?

    Up to 75 percent of those diagnosed with ADHD also experience executive functioning challenges. However, it is possible to diagnose someone with Executive Function Disorder without an accompanying ADHD diagnosis, as EFD can occur by itself. Whether or not Executive Function Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are diagnosed together or separately, comprehensive treatment is necessary for success in school, work and beyond.

  • What are the symptoms of Executive Function Disorder?

    Executive Function Disorder (EFD) is a neurobehavioral disorder characterized by deficits in one’s ability to regulate, organize and complete tasks. Common symptoms of Executive Function Disorder include:

    - difficulty completing assignments in a timely manner
    - making decisions
    - remembering facts or details
    - multi-tasking
    - staying on track when it comes to following instructions
    - focusing on tasks without getting distracted
    - organizing projects or other activities

    People with EFD may also have difficulty understanding the consequences of their actions and remember past experiences, therefore impairing effective problem solving. Other signs of Executive Function Disorder can include having trouble expressing emotions appropriately and regulating behaviors.

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"A few problems that I noticed were disorganization and a lack of an efficient schedule for myself. My Coach helped me organize myself in a much more efficient manner that has enabled me to stay on track with my classes. We set up a schedule and he was able to assist me in ways of sticking to what we laid out.”

~ MATT, College Freshman with ADHD and EFD.