We all have executive functions that don’t fully stop developing until our late twenties. Childhood and adolescence present an opportunity to embed strong skills early on. However, some people need more support than others.
Everyone can benefit from understanding executive function skills, how their brains work, how it affects their learning, performance and behaviour. They can use this information to get work done, regulate their emotions and manage everyday life. There are some groups of people for whom more intensive support to develop good executive function skills can be really beneficial.
People with executive function skills challenges are often bright and able, but seem unable to manage their daily lives. These people are often seen as lazy and unmotivated and people in their community can become increasingly frustrated by their apparent difficulty in doing the ‘basic things’ in life. Problems with task initiation, time management, planning and organisation, shifting and task monitoring can have a significant impact on their performance. The result can be a person who is isolated from their community (personal, educational or professional) and underperforming in relation to their potential.
There is also a well-established link between poverty, trauma and executive function deficits. This link can translate into people experiencing the challenges described above and also displaying behavioural issues linked to the executive function, and inhibitory control.
People from all backgrounds can benefit from additional support to strengthen their executive function skills.