Helpful Articles

What Is Executive Dysfunction?

Executive function skills enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and manage multiple tasks. Up to 90 percent of kids with ADHD struggle with executive dysfunction, which impairs goal-directed behavior. 

By Janice Rodden Medically reviewed by Sharon Saline, Psy.D.

Executive dysfunction is a term used to describe the range of cognitive, behavioral, and emotional difficulties which often occur as a result of another disorder or a traumatic brain injury. Individuals with executive dysfunction struggle with planning, problem-solving, organization, and time management.

Children and adults with executive functioning problems struggle to organize materials, regulate emotions, set schedules and stick with tasks. They misplace papers, reports, and other school materials. They might have similar problems keeping track of their personal items or keeping their bedroom organized.

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Brain & Cognitive Skills

Brain and Cognitive Skills Training

Weak underlying cognitive skills may be the reason why a person struggles to read or learn at a even a basic level. If this is the cause of the learning difficulty, it can be corrected. Research has shown that the brain never stops changing. If you or your child experience learning or reading problems, brain or cognitive skills training can be your most effective choice to eliminate the cause of the struggle, and move on to learning and reading success.

Understanding individual cognitive skills helps us understand how they impact learning. These skills include:

Attention Skills: A student’s ability to attend to incoming information can be observed, broken down into a variety of sub-skills, and improved through properly coordinated training. We train and strengthen the three primary types of attention:

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9 Food Rules for ADHD Families: What to Eat, What to Avoid

A well-rounded diet can have a powerful, positive effect on your cognition, mood, memory, and behavior. The wrong diet can aggravate ADHD symptoms. Here’s what you should (and absolutely should not) be eating to help your brain and body.

By Tana Amen, RN, BSN

The right foods can have a powerful, positive effect on your cognition, mood, memory, and behavior. The wrong foods can worsen symptoms of attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD). That’s why it’s important to note the best foods for ADHD.

In two studies done in Holland, Lidy Pelsser, Ph.D., demonstrated that an elimination diet (eliminating sugar, gluten, dairy, eggs, certain meats, and food dyes) improved symptoms in 70 percent of children with ADHD. (That was without eating some of the best foods for ADHD, the powerful brain-focusing foods that I will tell you about later.) As someone who knows what it’s like to grow up in an ADHD household filled with drama, this little food fact got my attention.

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The Benefits of Breakfast Are Real - and Delicious

High protein breakfast foods help boost focus and mood all day long. Use these recipe ideas to help your child shine from the first bell to the last.

By Laura Stevens, M.S., Susan McQuillan

Maryanne knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but getting her 8-year-old son, who has attention deficit disorder (ADHD), to eat in the morning is difficult. Getting his clothes on, teeth brushed, and backpack filled leaves Maryanne little time to prepare a serious morning meal, let alone something Steve will eat. When it comes to breakfast, 8-year-old Madeline, diagnosed with ADHD last year, knows what she likes: carbohydrates. Her meal of choice is toast with jelly or waffles topped with fruit or, as her mother puts it, “anything made with white flour.”

While there’s nothing wrong with eating carbohydrates in the morning, an all-carb breakfast, or no breakfast at all, is a recipe for inattention. Carbs won’t steady a child’s blood sugar throughout the morning, help her stay alert, or prevent the energy dips that cause her to lose focus in the classroom. High-protein breakfast foods are ideal.

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After a Good Night's Sleep

After a Good Night's Sleep Brain Cells Are Ready to Learn

Stephanie Dutchen, National Institutes of Health


brainOn top, the brain of a sleep-deprived fly glows orange because of Bruchpilot a communication protein between brain cells. These bright orange brain areas are associated with learning. On the bottom, a well-rested fly shows lower levels of Bruchpilot, which might make the fly ready to learn after a good night's rest.
CREDIT: Chiara Cirelli, University of Wisconsin-Madison

This Research in Action article was provided to LiveScience in partnership with the National Science Foundation.

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