ADHD & Executive Functioning Explained
If you or a loved one has recently received a diagnosis of ADHD or ADD, the terms executive functions (EF) or executive functioning deficit may have also surfaced in the conversation. What? If you didn't understand this term (and who would?), talk with your doctor, psychotherapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist about what this actually means, and how executive functioning may be compromised in individuals with ADHD. The YouTube video (all the way down, at the bottom of this post) offers a clear explanation of executive functioning. It's helpful to have examples and an understanding of how this problem may show up for you or someone you love in your everyday life, whether you're a child, adolescent or adult diagnosed with ADHD. This article in Scientific American explains how working with a therapist who practices evidence-based therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT may yield long-term benefits, providing strategies to improve social skills, reduce impulsivity and develop and reinforce positive habits that last. Some individuals find it helpful to work with an expert ADD coach who can help them manage the many aspects of their lives. Parents are reluctant to have their child diagnosed for plenty of good reasons. I get that. However, left untreated, kids with ADD & ADHD are vulnerable to having long-term self-esteem difficulties as well as the potential to abuse substances. Imagine what it's like to feel overwhelmed, stupid, checked out, revved-up, crazy or as one young adult shared with me recently, "everybody screamed at me all the time, it would have been helpful to have a name for my problem. My friends all got prescriptions for performance enhancement to take the SAT's, I just wanted to stay awake and focus during the test." For at-risk kids and adolescents, it really is better to know sooner rather than later. In my opinion, medications such as Ritalin and Adderall are over-prescribed in this country (we now have an epidemic of abuse and addiction). That said, I feel that medication (both stimulant and non-stimulant) is indicated for some and could prove to be life-transforming. Russell Barkley, PhD, clinical professor of psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina, is a leading expert on ADHD and the editor of the bimonthly ADHD Report. To learn more about Dr. Barkley and ADHD go to russellbarkley.org.
Practice acceptance, try compassion and change what you can. Take care, KS