Executive Skill Challenges: Adults Have Them, Too!

December 22, 2016
by: Peg Dawson

Our professional focus over many years has been on children with executive skill weaknesses. In working with parents and teachers, however, we discovered that we could enhance their understanding of the challenges that kids are up against by encouraging them to look at their own executive skill profile. In fact, we’ve been told by many readers of Smart but Scattered that their assessment of their own executive skills profile was the most interesting part of the book. This led us to write a book for adults. The Smart but Scattered Guide to Success gives readers not only the opportunity to assess their executive skills, using several self-assessment questionnaires, but also strategies and tips for capitalizing on executive skill strengths and managing executive skill weaknesses. We adapt the same basic strategies we use with kids to an adult population. The book will certainly appeal to adults with ADHD, since they tend to have more significant executive skill challenges than a non-ADHD population, but we also believe that the book will be useful for anyone who can identify some problem areas associated with executive skills. And who among us can’t do that? In fact, throughout the book, the authors draw on their… Continue reading Executive Skill Challenges: Adults Have Them, Too!

Can We Talk About Sleep?

December 30, 2014
by: Peg Dawson

When parents bring their children to me for an evaluation because they are concerned about possible executive skill weaknesses, I spend the first part of the assessment process interviewing them about their child. Parents know their children better than any teacher, psychologist, or therapist ever will, and I get a great deal of useful information from that interview. That said, it took me longer than it should have to realize that one of the questions I need to ask parents is about sleep. First of all, I didn’t learn about sleep at all when I was in graduate school, so maybe that’s my excuse. But once I realized I needed to ask about sleep, it began opening windows for me. I had no idea how many children can’t fall asleep at night without a parent lying down with them, or how many kids crawl into bed with their parents in the middle of the night, or may even sleep in their parents’ bedroom. More recently, I’ve come to understand that way too many children have technology in their bedroom—televisions and computers that are too tempting to set aside even as the lights should be turned off. And too many teenagers… Continue reading Can We Talk About Sleep?

Peg’s Take: Executive Skills in Everyday (Adult) Life

February 22, 2014
by: Peg Dawson

Procrastination is usually not an issue for me. In fact, task initiation is one of my strongest executive skills. But ever since we got this website up and running, I’ve put off writing the blog I had every intention of writing when the whole thing started.  Now, with a new school year looming, I decided it’s time to make good on my promise. Here’s the process I went through to get this going. First, I wanted to understand why, if task initiation is one of my stronger executive skills, I had delayed for so long in updating this blog. I can use the usual excuses—too much to do, too little time, but that doesn’t work because I manage to fit in computer solitaire games and (almost) daily exercise. I’ve even planted a vegetable garden and mopped a few floors along the way—things that involve some tedious labor that one would think I would choose not to do if I could get away with it. One might suspect that I hate to write and that explains it, but that doesn’t hold water either. After all, I’m the author of several books  and while admittedly book-writing can be a painful process when… Continue reading Peg’s Take: Executive Skills in Everyday (Adult) Life

Tools of the Mind: Thinking about Executive Skills on Many Levels

February 17, 2014
by: Peg Dawson

Tools of the Mind: Thinking about Executive Skills on Many Levels Peg Dawson When I first started thinking about executive skills, I came at it from my experience working with students with ADHD. With that population, problems with task initiation, sustained attention, and response inhibition are paramount, and I spent a lot of time thinking first about how to structure the environment to better accommodate kids with these skill deficits and then thinking about how to teach them to initiate and stick with tasks and control their impulses more successfully. Working with these skills in particular usually involves an adult (teacher, parent, coach) providing a lot of direction—cues, structure, schedules, routines, checklists, social reinforcement if not more formal incentive systems, and providing students with lots of opportunity to practice under controlled and supervised conditions. By doing all these things described above, we can shape kids up. They’ll be more likely to complete classwork and homework, they’ll stay out of trouble on the playground and with their friends, and they’ll make life easier not only for themselves but for their parents and teachers as well. But is that really the goal? Recently I’ve begun thinking about executive skill development from a… Continue reading Tools of the Mind: Thinking about Executive Skills on Many Levels

Laziness … or Poor Executive Skills?

December 1, 2013
by: Peg Dawson

As a psychologist who specializes in children with learning and attention disorders, I see a lot of kids who are struggling in school. Very often, their parents are struggling too, with what is causing the problem. When they come to see me, the initial interview often goes like this: Me: Why don’t you start by telling me how you ended up here and what you’re hoping to get out of this evaluation? Parents: We can’t figure out why Sam (this could be Samuel or Samantha, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll assume Sam’s a boy) is having such a hard time in school. He did fine in early elementary school, and his achievement test scores are consistently above average, so we know he’s not stupid. To be honest, we’re beginning to think he’s just lazy. Me: Tell me what leads you to suspect that. Parents: Well, if he hasn’t “forgotten” that he has homework or forgotten to bring it home, he puts it off until the last minute and then rushes through it. He makes a million mistakes but can’t bring himself to go back and check his work. And if he has a choice between playing video games… Continue reading Laziness … or Poor Executive Skills?