Understanding how executive functioning impacts writing is important in helping you support your child with executive functioning challenges, as most kids with EF difficulties struggle with getting their thoughts down on the page.
Writing is a very complex process that involves attention, executive functioning, language skills and fine motor skills.
Through brain research, we know that when we begin to write, we require a tremendous amount of executive functioning skills to coordinate all of these processes. Kids with executive functioning struggle with task initiation and that is when we need a high level of coordinated executive functioning skills the most.
Writing requires one to be increasingly independent in organizing their thoughts and getting them down on the page and more than that they must initiate, sustain, monitor and discipline themselves throughout the process. That lack of self-awareness, metacognitive skills and working memory all play into the difficulties that most kids with executive functioning difficulties have with written expression.
When something is hard for a child who struggles with attention and learning, you are often going to see resistant and avoidant behaviors. Parents may misinterpret these behaviors as motivation issues but for most kids, it is a way to avoid a task that is painfully hard.
Helping kids visualize that end result and use sensory language to help “see” what they are talking about, helps to activate those metacognitive and working memory centers that are so developmentally delayed in kids with executive functioning issues.
We know through research that not only is there a relationship between executive functioning and academic performance but there is a predictive relationship too. Elementary school children with good executive functioning did better academically in later school years than their peers with poor executive functioning. So, executive functioning is an important determinant of academic success as early as elementary school.
And remember executive functions are a set of skills that need to be taught. A pill isn’t going to fix the underlying problem that kids with executive functioning dysfunction or ADHD have and they can learn to organize their thinking and behavior and strategically plan and take action that lead to a future outcome (that's a fancy way of saying get stuff done without an adult cuing them the entire way).
Having executive functioning skills is important for children to address their writing difficulties. Having an executive functioning disorder in writing with or without ADHD or having dyslexia and executive function writing problems can be very hard on kids and really knock down their self-esteem. Getting kids with EF challenges to write without a screaming match or them hiding out in the basement can be quite a hurdle but not an impossible task.
Always remember… “Calm Brain, Happy Family™”
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to give health advice and it is recommended to consult with a physician before beginning any new wellness regime.
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Dr. Roseann is a Children’s Mental Health Expert and Therapist who has been featured in/on hundreds of media outlets including, CBS, NBC, FOX News, PIX11 NYC, The New York Times, The Washington Post,, Business Insider, USA Today, CNET, Marth Stewart, and PARENTS. FORBES called her, “A thought leader in children’s mental health.”
She is the founder and director of The Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health and Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge. Dr. Roseann is a Board Certified Neurofeedback (BCN) Practitioner, a Board Member of the Northeast Region Biofeedback Society (NRBS), Certified Integrative Medicine Mental Health Provider (CMHIMP) and an Amen Clinic Certified Brain Health Coach. She is also a member of The International Lyme Disease and Associated Disease Society (ILADS), The American Psychological Association (APA), Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) International Society for Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR) and The Association of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB).
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