Executive function and ADHD Success

If you are a regular reader of the Edge blog, you already know that the ADHD can cause all types of challenges that get in the way of a student reaching his or her full potential. The root of many of these challenges lies in the way the executive functions of the brain work. Executive functions are the part of the brain that helps with:

  • Scheduling
  • Goal Setting
  • Organizing
  • Focusing
  • Prioritizing
  • Sticking with it when it gets tough

That all sounds pretty important, doesn’t it? It’s no wonder that this week in Seattle Times interview by reporter Jerry Large, developmental molecular biologist John Medina said:

“The single greatest predictor of academic success is executive function. It even trumps IQ.”

The single greatest predictor of academic success.  Wow. Did that give you pause? Are you feeling a little worried?

ADHD and Executive Function Challenges

The way ADHD affects the executive functions of the brain can be one of the most challenging parts of living with it. But before you head down a dark hallway, we want to look at this from a different angle.
Yes, executive functions are important. And, yes, people living with ADHD have struggles that others don’t have because of impaired executive functions. BUT, that does not mean that people with ADHD cannot be extremely successfully in school and in life. Why?

First off, if you are reading this blog, you already know you have ADHD. That’s a huge advantage. You can take that knowledge and put in place supports to shore up your executive function weaknesses.

ADHD is not a one-size-fits-all disability. ADHD manifests differently in each person. (Thus the alphabet soup of ADD, ADHD, AD/HD to all name the same condition.) Even those with severe ADHD usually have some activities where their executive functions work very well.   It is critical to keep in mind that each person has their own, unique set of strengths and weaknesses. The key is to be introspective and understand yourself — know your strengths, your challenges, your passions, your aversions.

An ADHD Coach plays to your strengths. An ADHD coach is a way to help you give you perspective on your strenthgs and help you learn life-long skills which will allow you to compensate for your weaknesses.

ADHD Coaching for ADHD Success

Sure, the greatest predictor of academic success is executive function. But it isn’t the only thing that you need to succeed.

  • Awareness that you have ADHD and acknowledging it has special challenges
  • Willingness to ask for help
  • Seeking out the right resource
  • And finding the outside experts to help you develop a plan that works for you.

These are all important too.

Find your edge

An Edge Coach understands how to work with ADHD. They have met the rigorous standards set by the Edge Foundation and are trained to working with students and young adults with ADHD. They know how to help you discover your many strengths and talents – hidden and known – and bring them into the forefront. They are passionate about making a positive difference in the lives of students and young adults with ADHD. And most of all, they are ready to help you.

What are you waiting for?

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4 Responses

  1. Jennifer Fraley
    | Reply

    At this time I am researching Executive Function or Dysfunction for my son. At this point we do not know if he has ADHD and I am not even sure if EF and ADHD are always linked. Are you aware of success where the adult or child are EF only?

    • Peggy -- Edge Foundation blogger
      | Reply

      Good question, Jennifer, and one that many people ask when they are first learning about ADHD. Essentially, ADHD is a neuro biological condition that effects Executive functioning. Executive Functioning problems, however, can arise from other causes, such as a brain injury. The symptoms are the same, but the causes can differ. An intervention like coaching addresses executive functioning regardless what the cause is because coaching targets executive functions such as organization, time management, short term memory, persisting at a difficult tasks, and goal setting.

      Bottom line: you don’t have to have ADHD to use an Edge coach.

  2. Mina Veazie
    | Reply

    I am interested in issues of EF as it relates to Autism Spectrum/Aspergers. This is an important issue for a young adult in terms of work responsibilities, how the work needs to be assigned, expectations in communication with others, impact of choices and decisions, leading and working cooperatively with others. Can you shed any light regarding decision making, priortizing, group dynamics. What is required for success as a lead administrator, coordinator, manager?

    Thank you

    • Peggy
      | Reply

      Thanks for your questions. I will share them with our lead coach and write a future blog post with the answers!

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