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Signs your child may have challenges with Executive Function Skills

(including, but not limited to):

  • Misplaces belongings or homework assignments

  • Has significant reactions to small problems

  • Does not use different strategies to solve problems

  • Requires constant reminders to initiate or complete

routine tasks

  • Lacks ability to recognize when unsuccessful and

adapt plan


What is it?

Executive function is one’s ability to use higher-level thought processes in order to be successful with daily activities. The underlying skills of executive function include:

  • Working Memory: remembering information for a period of time in order to use it (e.g. recalling multiple steps of a direction while completing each step)

  • Behavioral Inhibition: ability to stop and consider behavior before engaging (e.g. stopping to consider the safety risk before stepping out into the street)

  • Cognitive Flexibility: seeing multiple solutions to problems (e.g. switching to a new study method when flashcards did not help improve a test grade)

  • Attention: ability to focus on important aspects of the environment (e.g. ignoring distractions in the classroom to focus on the teacher’s instructions)

  • Sequencing & Prioritizing: recognizing an efficient way to order steps (e.g. studying for tomorrow’s test first before completing a worksheet due next week)

  • Organization: using strategies to keep track of belongings or recall daily tasks (e.g. using separate folders for each class in school)

  • Time Management: managing time efficiently to fit in all tasks within a given time period (e.g. using a clock to recognize that it is time to pack up belongings in order to get to the next class)

  • Self-monitoring: reflecting on performance throughout, and following tasks with an internal dialogue in order to identify strategies to improve performance on the next attempt at the task (e.g. recognizing that you are spending too much time on a project and setting a timer to get back on track)

Our Approach

At Leaps and Bounds, we recognize that a child needs to develop these underlying skills of executive function and practice applying them with preferred and engaging activities. In our therapy sessions, we will use any activity that motivates your child to begin addressing these areas.  


At our center, we have a kitchen for cooking tasks and even a garden to apply these skills in exciting ways with our clients. Our clients working on executive functioning have initiated recycling programs, video projects, and hosted farmers’ market stands.


As your child learns how to write goals, identify strategies, and most importantly,   

self-check his or her work, then we progress to applying the new skills to academic or home-based goals (e.g. getting homework turned in, completing daily routine independently).

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