ADHD, charts, children, homeschooling

How Do Executive Function Problems Affect My ADHD Child?

If you or your child have ADHD, you have executive function issues.

ADHD is basically all about problems in executive function.

What is executive function?

“Executive functions (collectively referred to as executive function and cognitive control) are a set of cognitive processes that are necessary for the cognitive control of behavior: selecting and successfully monitoring behaviors that facilitate the attainment of chosen goals. Executive functions include basic cognitive processes such as attentional control, cognitive inhibition, inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility. Higher order executive functions require the simultaneous use of multiple basic executive functions and include planning and fluid intelligence (i.e., reasoning and problem solving).” –from Wikipedia

Continue reading “How Do Executive Function Problems Affect My ADHD Child?”

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ADHD, children

10 ADHD Statistics Parents Should Be Aware Of

As part of ADHD awareness month, I have been posting ADHD facts regularly on Facebook. More than once I have been asked if I could back up my facts with studies and data. For some of these facts, I was able to find data; others I only have videos or articles by experts. I hope you find this information helpful. Please consider following the links and looking into the sources yourself.

An educated parent is better able to help their child.

Continue reading “10 ADHD Statistics Parents Should Be Aware Of”

ADHD, children, homeschooling

What Is My ADHD Child’s Executive Function Tank?

Executive function is defined as “self-directed actions needed to sustain problem-solving towards a goal.”

“Executive functions (collectively referred to as executive function and cognitive control) are a set of cognitive processes that are necessary for the cognitive control of behavior: selecting and successfully monitoring behaviors that facilitate the attainment of chosen goals. Executive functions include basic cognitive processes such as attentional control, cognitive inhibition, inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility. Higher order executive functions require the simultaneous use of multiple basic executive functions and include planning and fluid intelligence (i.e., reasoning and problem solving).” (from Wikipedia)

ADHD is an executive function disorder.

Because of the asynchronous growth in their brains, ADHD people struggle with executive function.

It is a daily struggle.

Since so much of life requires executive functions, it is easy for those of us with ADHD to deplete our executive function ability –or our executive function tank. Continue reading “What Is My ADHD Child’s Executive Function Tank?”

ADHD, charts, homeschooling

What Is My ADHD Child’s Executive Function Age?

“Executive functions (collectively referred to as executive function and cognitive control) are a set of cognitive processes that are necessary for the cognitive control of behavior: selecting and successfully monitoring behaviors that facilitate the attainment of chosen goals. Executive functions include basic cognitive processes such as attentional control, cognitive inhibition, inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility. Higher order executive functions require the simultaneous use of multiple basic executive functions and include planning and fluid intelligence (i.e., reasoning and problem solving).” (from Wikipedia)

What is my ADHD child's executive age

The brain of the ADHD child is developing at an average 30% behind schedule in the frontal lobe region according to leading ADHD researcher Dr Russell Barkley. The frontal lobe controls regulation. It is the executive function part of the brain. It is the boss, the voice in your brain, the executive assistant, that tells you what to do with what you know and learn. Because this part is behind schedule, children with ADHD brains are not always able to access the information they know to make use of it.

All the files are there in the information section, but the operating system is failing to access the files.

For example, they may know that stoves are hot and yet impulsively touch a hot stove because the part of their brain that says “Wait!” isn’t working on schedule with neurotypical brains. This is because the files stored in the back of their brain that says “Stoves are hot” was not accessed in a timely manner to prohibit touching the stove. It is not because they do not know the stove is hot. It is a failure of the frontal lobe of the brain to access the information they have stored in the memory sections.

Executive function dysregulation generally causes deficiencies in planning, abstract thinking, flexibility and behavioral control. It encompasses many different parts of regulation –from emotional control to physical control over their bodies to organizational abilities– and any one part could be more or less affected by ADHD. It varies by the individual.

Because there are other disorders or injuries that can cause executive delay problems, Executive Function Disorder is a diagnosis in an of itself. Sometimes, someone with ADHD will have both diagnoses. According to Dr. Barkley, (the ADHD researcher who is the source of the 30% behind concept) every ADHD person has executive dysfunction by default to one level or another.

The 30% behind neurotypical people as listed in this graphic is just an average. So your child could be more behind or less behind. He could be more behind in some areas and less behind in others.

For instance, I knew I was impulsive (even though I didn’t know I have ADHD) and didn’t think things through as a teen. So I chose not to get my license until I was 19 and thought I could handle it. Impulsivity was a big deal for me. But I was also a smart kid and knew I wanted to be careful and make good choices. So even though I tended to be impulsive, I was careful about my choices, involving my parents in decision making, asking for advice from trusted adults, and being cautious. This made a huge difference in me not making bad choices as a teen.

When I got married I was 20 which gives me the executive age of 13.33 according to our chart (which is a rule of thumb, not a hard and fast rule). No wonder I had so much trouble organizing our lives, managing our home, working a job, and paying bills! It makes so much sense now. I had to work so much harder than anyone I knew to do these things well.

The chart only goes up to 32 years of age. There is a reason for this. In the human adult, we reach our peak maturity in our early thirties. That means that however much the ADHD brain has developed by the early thirties is where it will stay. However, that does not mean that we cannot learn new coping mechanisms or better skills. It does, however, mean that ADHD adults tend to be about the same Executive Function Age as those who are in their 20s. This makes us a lot of fun actually! Executive function only refers to the regulatory part of our brains, not our intelligence or ability to learn new things. We may tend to be emotionally reactive, impulsive and disorganized compared to other people our age. Medication can help us make up that 30% difference no matter what age we are.

I hope this chart will help you better understand those around you who have ADHD. Please give them a lot of grace –and remind them that you love them no matter what.

If you have ADHD, give yourself a big hug for me. You are awesome. You have worked way harder than everyone else to get to where you are right now. ADHD people are my most favorite people in the whole world. On average, they are kind, loyal, honest, gracious, and compassionate. Don’t let the fact that you are awesome get lost in the science of ADHD. You know how you always felt like you need a housekeeper and a secretary? That is because those parts of your brain don’t work the same way as neurotypical people’s brains do. All those things require your frontal lobe to work efficiently –the frontal lobe is the very part of your brain affected by ADHD. It is okay. Find a tribe of ADHD people who get you. Educate those around you about ADHD. And, above all else, give yourself a lot of grace.

If you have ADHD, leave a comment and let me know how it affects your life –do you feel the 30% behind? Or maybe this average isn’t true for you.

If you are a parent of an ADHD child, I would love to hear if this post and graphic helps you to understand your child better.

You can download a copy of the above graphic “What’s My ADHD Child’s Executive Age?” to print for yourself here.

You can also download a pdf worksheet to evaluate if your child’s ADHD treatment is helping his or her symptoms here.

If you found this information helpful, I would be honored if you would subscribe to my blog or follow my Facebook page.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

P.S. The information in this post, and particularly the chart, is based on a video series by Dr Russell Barkley. You can find the video series at the bottom of this blog post. If you enjoyed this post, there are many other posts on my blog about ADHD such as:

13 Facts Parents of ADHD Children Should Know

17 Things Your ADHD Child Would Tell You If He Could

Start Here to Learn More About Homeschooling an ADHD Child

ADHD, charts, homeschooling

13 Facts Parents of ADHD Children Should Know

#ADHDFacts #DrBarkley #GraceUnderPressureBlog #ADHDAwarenessMonth

If you love someone who has been diagnosed with ADHD or who you think has ADHD you might feel like you’re fighting a battle. False information, extreme biases, and fake news are profuse to the point that what most of the public believes about ADHD is simply lies –lies that affect those of us who have ADHD and those of us love people with ADHD. I’m not going to misrepresent this: it can feel like a battle. But, there are science and facts to combat the profuse misinformation permeating the internet.

Here are some facts you need to know about ADHD:


1. ADHD is not a new diagnosis, but the truth is that it has been well-researched all the way back to the late 1700s when Sir Alexander Crichton (1763–1856) gave a detailed and accurate description of the condition.


2. ADHD is not really about attention: it has been mislabeled and is actually a regulation problem due to the underdevelopment of the frontal lobe in people who have ADHD causing a failure to develop age-appropriate behaviors on schedule with their peers (attention problems are a byproduct of poor regulation).


3. In ADHD, the hyperactivity is caused by the overgrowth of the action part of the brain combined with the low ability to regulate due to the underdevelopment of the frontal lobe.


4. A huge component of ADHD –which is unfortunately not in the diagnostic criteria– is emotional dysregulation which affects every aspect of the ADHD person’s life and especially those who love and care for them.


5. ODD is a byproduct of ADHD which results from the emotional dysregulation combined with anger (often anger about not being understood), and every ADHD person is automatically subclinically ODD.


6. ADHD is the most researched and proven condition of any mental health condition known to man regardless of what culture and media tell you.


7. ADHD people are not addicted to media and video games, but rather media and video games work in a way that gives immediate responses which ADHD people need to stay motivated and focused.


8. ADHD is not a result of lack of discipline or poor parenting, but rather it is a result of how the brain has formed which is usually a result of genetics and can even be identified by genetic markers.


9. ADHD can be proven, there are even brain scans which back up the science proving that it is real, and it is the most treatable condition in psychology even though most ADHD people do not get treated.


10. ADHD needs to be identified and treated –the earlier the better– and there is significant potential damage for children who do not get a diagnoses, treatment, and have knowledge of their own diagnosis (I cannot emphasise enough how important knowledge of the condition is to the healthy psychological development of the child).


11. ADHD is a neurogenetic disorder, and ADHD medication is a scientifically proven neurogenetic treatment.


12. ADHD people are statistically far less likely to become addicts if they are effectively medicated and treated before they get desperate enough to start self-medicating with drugs, tobacco, and alcohol –even the majority of addicts with ADHD do not go back to illegal drugs if they are properly diagnosed and treated for their ADHD (It doesn’t matter what the media says, because the science backs up this position).


13. ADHD people cannot and will not be “normal” –ever– because they have different brains, so normal methods of organization, education, employment, etc will not work for them like it works for those who have neurotypical brains (this is why I endorse homeschooling).


This is a summary of topics discussed in Dr. Barkley’s “30 Essential Ideas You Should Know About ADHD” plus a few additional ideas which have their basis in science. You can find the entire 3-hour video series by Dr Barkley here, and I highly recommend taking the time to listen to the whole thing if you know and care about people who have ADHD or who you think might have ADHD.

If you don’t have 3 hours you can get a taste of the wonderful information available from Dr. Barkley in this video which is about 14 minutes long.

If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to my blog or follow me on Facebook. You can also download a worksheet to help you evaluate if your child’s ADHD treatment plan is working.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes