NURTURE INFORMATION HUB
Executive Function Skills are Associated with Reading and Parent-Rated Child Function in Children Born Prematurely
Irene M. Loe, MD,* Eliana S. Lee, BS,* Beatriz Luna, PhD,# and Heidi M. Feldman, MD PhD*
“Preterm children are at risk for executive function (EF) problems, which have been linked to behaviour and learning problems in full term children.”
Some people describe executive function as “the CEO of the brain.” These skills allow us to set goals, plan, and get things done. When kids struggle with executive skills, it affects them in school and in everyday life. Trouble with executive skills isn’t a diagnosis or a learning disability on its own. But it’s a common problem for kids who learn and think differently. Kids with ADHD have difficulties with executive function.
The three main areas of executive function are:
Executive function is responsible for a number of skills, including:
Challenges with Executive Function in Kindergarten:
Trouble with Executive Function in Primary School:
Executive skills usually develop quickly in early childhood and into adolescence. But they keep developing into the mid-twenties some say up to 25 years old. As they get older, though, they may have fewer challenges as teens and young adults.
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“Being Flexible is a part of the Executive Thinking Dysfunction, one way in which it interferes with my son is when he needs to stop doing something that he likes to do and change focus. If he is playing on his computer game and I say stop and come to dinner. It will be World War 3 if I demanded this. For my son, understanding someone else’s point of view can be totally missed. We understand coming to dinner when I say so is a sign of respect and he would need to be able to put himself in the other person’s shoes to see how this makes me mad! This skill is missing by him and looks disrespectful. But I understand now that he needs to finish this game first, I can accept this and will continue to review the idea that the world won’t always wait like I do and he understands this. But He told me that this is how his mind works, It’s similar to me cooking dinner, ‘can I walk away from the stove while cooking at a critical time.’ Flexibility is negotiable and has changed over time as he has gotten older. So, when that song on his computer is done, he comes or when he finishes that final stage of a computer game he comes. As he gets older this has improved! Some skills are learned over a longer period of time. But showing my flexibility as he gets older is also a teaching point with him.” - Andrea, Mum to Aiden
Speaking with your GP about your concerns is a great starting place. You may be referred to a Paediatrician or Psychologist for further assessment. Be kind to yourself and try to not judge yourself or your situation.