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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Marge, M.S. CCC-SLP

How Can Speech and Language Therapists Help with Executive Functions?

Updated: May 4, 2023

Have you ever wondered why your high schooler is not completing assignments, turning them in late, or not turning them in at all even if the assignment is done? And why are they having trouble managing their time, seem unmotivated, and have difficulty writing papers? It could be due to deficits in executive functioning. So what is executive functioning? Executive functions involve planning, goal setting, task initiation, self-monitoring, sustaining attention, and time management among other skills. It is quite common to see these deficits in children with ADHD, autism, brain injury and other disorders. Having these deficits can make a child feel overwhelmed and anxious when beginning a task.

So how can a speech and language therapist help children and young adults with deficits in executive functions? Speech therapists can use their expertise in language, social communication, and cognitive-communication to help individuals in this area. The first step is to perform an evaluation which can help determine areas of strengths and weaknesses in planning, goal setting, task initiation, self-monitoring, sustaining attention, and time management, etc. If deficits are found, the next step is to provide strategies that may help the client in the areas of weakness. For example, a client who has difficulty getting started with tasks may be provided with strategies to reduce the barriers that are preventing him from doing so. There are a great variety of these strategies and the key is to find the ones which work best for each individual and train her to use them independently.

Speech therapy targeting executive functioning can greatly help a child to become more independent, motivated and confident. These tools are essential in high school for teenagers who wish to attend college which has less structure, large gaps of downtime to fill, and many long-term assignments to complete. It is also crucial for the many tasks which have to be complete

d in one’s junior year of high school which typically consists of rigorous coursework, SAT/ACT preparation, college visits, etc. It is important to know that speech-language pathologists have many strategies at their disposal to help children in this area. Speech therapists can also help college students with executive functioning including time management, planning and completing long-term assignments as well as self-advocacy. So if you’re throwing your hands up in the air because your high school child is not getting his work done, just know that help is a phone call or a few clicks away!

If you have concerns about your child’s executive functions skills, contact a licensed speech language pathologist certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

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