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By Kristin Stanberry
There is some debate about this, but Dr. Brown states: "A person's ability to perform the complex, self-managed tasks of everyday life provides a much better measure of his or her executive functioning than can neuropsychological tests."
There is also a debate about whether or not an individual's executive function profile can be used, in and of itself, to help identify LD or diagnose AD/HD. It is not standard practice at this time.
As a parent, you may find the framework of executive function helpful for identifying not only your child's area(s) of difficulty but also her strengths and talents. By organizing and teasing apart that information, her unique "executive function profile" may emerge. This will help you determine where she needs extra help, and where her strengths might help compensate for her areas of struggle.
This perspective may also help you communicate your concerns and observations to teachers and other professionals. This may, in turn, help educators determine what accommodations or interventions might target her areas of difficulty, perhaps by playing to some of her strengths. (Note: Many teachers are not familiar with the concept of executive function. However, your school psychologists may be familiar with the theory because neuropsychological testing is used to assess executive function.)
Whether or not your child meets the criteria for LD or AD/HD, understanding her executive function profile — where she struggles, where she succeeds, and how those abilities interact — may be a powerful tool for understanding who she is, and how she learns and functions best. Depending on the age of your child, it may also provide a lens through which she can view herself — a view that will change and develop as she matures.
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