A Series on Executive Functioning
This is the second segment in a series about executive functioning (EF): our “5 R Solutions for Everyday Living.” In this episode, we discuss how and why to “Reframe and Redefine” problems with EF.
Before we can implement an effective solution in any situation, we must first accurately define the problem. Before we can help a student with any struggle, we must first identify what is really going on. Once we correctly call it what it is, we begin the process of solving the problem without blame and shame and with accountability.
For example, there is a common belief that procrastinators are simply perfectionistic, and the fear of not being perfect interferes with their ability to get started and get it done. There is also a common belief that procrastination is deliberate avoidance. While these might be true sometimes, often there is a different reason—a skill deficit.
So if perfectionism and deliberate avoidance are not the causes…what is going on?! In many cases, the true culprit is a deficit in executive functioning, and specifically in the area of activation.
Correctly reframing and redefining the root of the problem helps (1) avoid blaming and shaming, (2) sets problem-solving in the right direction, and (3) creates space for accountability and success.
Activation is one subset of EF skills and includes getting started, organizing, prioritizing. A deficit in activation is essentially a broken “start button.”
Obviously, the solution to a broken start button (or deficit in activation) is very different than the solution to deliberate avoidance or perfection anxiety. If the start button does not work properly, then that child’s brain needs an override. The override can be internal, such as panic or strong interest. The override can also be external, such as support from a person or a change in the environment (more on this next time).
Before we can help a student with any problem, we must first accurately reframe and redefine the true nature of the problem. There is always more to a student than what we can observe. Behavior is communication. And… when the root of the behavior is mislabeled, we miss what the behavior is trying to tell us, which often leads to unwarranted blaming, shaming, and continued failures.
A Free Presentation Series for Parents with Students of All Ages
Individual Matters hosts a series of presentations for parents of students of all ages. Join Dr. Katen and other local experts to learn about all things that have to do with learning.
The presentations take place on the FIRST TUESDAY of every month for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year. Topics will include:
- Learning Simulations
- ADHD: What is really causing the attention problem?
- Dyslexia and other Learning Disorders
- Auditory and Visual Processing
- Executive Function and Learning
- Learning Styles and Using Strengths to Find Success
- Gifted and Advanced Learners
- Successful Learning Skills: Organization and Homework Strategies
- Autism and Other Social Challenges
- IEPs, 504s, and Advocating for your Child at School
- And many more!
Location: 2530 E. Foresight Circle, Grand Junction, CO 81505
Day/Time: 1st Tuesday of each month, 5:30-7:00pm
If you can make it, please RSVP by email or phone so we can be sure to have enough seats and snacks.
Hope to see you there!
– Frank Coppola, MA, ODC, ACG
Creativity: The Upside of ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)
When many people think of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD (formerly called ADD), they tend to picture a hyper and oppositional kid who is bouncing off walls. Or maybe they envision a day dreamer who never listens. Or they think of a disorganized and habitually late adult, whose desk is a mess, and who can never remember where he put his phone. While attention regulation – and sometimes hyperactivity and impulsivity – are certainly part of this “disorder,” there are also many advantages to having ADHD.
One of the greatest gifts of the ADHD mind is creativity. The abilities to jump from idea to idea, to connect seemingly unrelated topics, and to wander (apparently without aim) inside a world of imaginative thought is a double-edged sword. In some situations, these traits can be disabling. But when understood and effectively channeled, these same handicaps become the seeds for ingenuity and discovery. “Impulsivity” can spark spontaneous and brilliant solutions. “Hyperactivity” can fuel the creative process. A “lack of focus” is an advantage when it frees a person from preconceived notions or strategies that aren’t working – and if it results in heightened concentration on more important activities and goals. Indeed, the creative juices of ADHD often produce novel and ingenious solutions, theories, and inventions.
Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, a Hungarian physiologist who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1937 and discovered vitamin C, said,
– Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, Physiologist
– Dr. Katen