Executive Dysfunction
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What Is Executive Function? 7 Deficits Tied to ADHD

What is executive function? The cognitive skills that help us plan, prioritize, and execute complex tasks are commonly tied to ADHD in children and adults. Here, ADHD authority Russell Barkley, Ph.D. explains how executive dysfunction originates in the ADHD brain and what these deficits typically look like.

6 Comments: What Is Executive Function? 7 Deficits Tied to ADHD

  1. @Melfunction There is a great video on YouTube, “Dr. Russell Barkley ADHD is not a gift”. I suggest you go and watch it before saying that ADHD should be treated as a positive thing. Some people may have grown up in a positive and supportive environment that did not break their self-worth because of the consequences and behavioural issues that come with ADHD.And yes, in day to day life, people interacting with ADHD children should acknowledge the areas of impairment and, being positive, work with the child to find compensothem strategies that are based on the child abilities. But on a official, medical, legal, regulations, whatever point of view, you shouldn’t glorify ADHD. It undermine the real day to day struggle most people have to content with. So when you’re done with the first video head on to “Dr. Russell Barkley – ADD, ODD, emotional impulsiveness,and relations”. Then, please take a look at the comments section for testimonies about how ADHD is not a gift, although you can have ADHD and be gifted. Another argument Dr.Barkley makes, which you should also consider, is, if you take away the deficit components, you take away the possibilities of help and research. Why should the government, educational system, social welfare, medical field work on providing specific help, accommodations, guidance for people who suffer from ADHD if it’s not a disorder, but a gift?! I believe that in real life situations, working with kids, you should always acknowledge their difficulties, only then will the child feel validated in their struggles and maybe help them understand why they struggle when their friends or classmates don’t (or maybe not in the same way), and from there on work with each individual child’s strengths to formulate personal strategies to help them cope with life. I hope you will not take my comment badly, but as I child who, unfortunately follows statistics, and was always blamed for the symptoms of my ADHD, made out to be the bad child because of the expressions of my deficits, it hurts to hear people glorify ADHD. I’m considered smart, was tested, high IQ, potentially High Intelligence Potential and yet I have not been able to “succeed in life”, I crashed and burned in university because I had never learned how to study and I was in a demanding course. When people tell me I’m smart, skilled, capable my first thoughts are always “So what?! It’s never helped me.” Because even though I got diagnosed, I didn’t get treatment until I failed university, even though I loved my courses, and remembering the diagnosis went and seeked out help on my own. But by then, a lot of damage had already been done. Ten years later, I have a long list of comorbidities and other medical issues and still no accomplishments to show for my “giftedness”.

  2. I found the article well written and helpful. However, I would love for the tone of these discussions to move away from terms like deficiency, deficit, dysfunction. Why not focus on the benefits and the awesome positive sides to people who have these tendencies?! There are so many different people in the world, all with different ways of thinking, we all have different strengths and things we can work on to improve our lives and/or academic success. The constant negative wording; deficit, dysfunction, disorder being stated around, or about young children, who are yet to master a skill, locks them in a box rather than freeing them. A victim mentality is more likely to be perpetuated from a young age, as concerned parents try to support their children, but are constantly talking about their children’s weaknesses, what their children struggle with around them. It’s just showing young children that they are ‘less than’. As adults talking about our children, we could take a more positive approach, “This is a skill you have yet to master. This is why this skill is important. These are things we can work on to help you strengthen this skill.” Focus on and find out the benefits to being scatterbrained – you are more like to be able to multi task and complete a lot of things over a course of a day. Way more empowering to find the ‘strength’ to your ‘weakness’ and to use it for good.

  3. Fascinating and, in a weird way, to me, comforting. Here’s why: the best resource I’ve read in this space is John Perry’s THE ART OF PROCRASTINATION. ADHD aren’t the only folks attempting to cope with executive deficits.

    I self-diagnosed at age 57 and have accomplished (once i do the gratitude thing and give myself a little breathing space!) far more than most ‘average’ folks…but on very different timelines.

    My career (a misnomer: I’ve led multiple working lives) is only now peaking, largely due to serious remaking of my brain via daily meditation and daily lengths swims. In other words, there are real blessings w/ADHD, not least of which is harnessing hyperfocus and a life energy generally far higher than ‘average’.

    There’s something to the belief that while there are real causes for life-management concern, we ADHDers ain’t the only folks behind in our tax filings (say) or losing our keys or addicted to toxic distractions. This isn’t empty consolation: I have to remind myself that I’m a human with all my strengths and weaknesses but with ADHD…not an ADHDer with faults and glitches and function-errors that mean I’m less than fully human.

    Also: I find a ‘poem a day’ service really focusing; Brainpickings and The Paris Review and poetry.com all have one 😉

  4. Is the dysfunction of the ‘circuits’ consistent or variable? I mean will sometimes the dysfunction be minor while at other times major?

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