What Parents Should Look For to Identify Executive Function Disorder in Their High Schoolers

Executive Function Disorder (EFD) is a condition related to ADHD that can significantly impact a student’s academic and social life, especially during the high school years. Unlike Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which primarily affects attention and hyperactivity, EFD specifically impairs an individual’s executive functions. These functions include skills like planning, organization, time management, and emotional regulation.

Identifying EFD in high schoolers can be challenging, as its symptoms often overlap with or are overshadowed by other conditions such as ADHD. That is why parents should be on the lookout for signs of executive function disorder, in order to help their child receive an earlier intervention.

Key Signs of Executive Function Disorder in High Schoolers

Teachers and educators are not always trained to identify executive function disorder, especially because EFD can look like other issues. That is why it helps when parents are also educated on EFD and understand the best approach for addressing it. Parents should be aware of several key signs that may indicate their high schooler is struggling with EFD, including:  

  • Organizational Challenges – High schoolers with EFD often have significant difficulties organizing their tasks, belongings, and time. This can manifest in missed deadlines, forgotten assignments, and general disarray in their personal spaces.
  • Problems with Time Management – These students may consistently underestimate the time needed for tasks, leading to chronic lateness or incomplete work. They struggle to prioritize tasks and manage their time effectively.
  • Difficulty Following Instructions – High schoolers with EFD may find it hard to follow multi-step instructions. This issue can result in incomplete assignments or errors in following classroom or household rules.
  • Emotional Regulation Issues – EFD can impact a student’s ability to regulate their emotions. Parents may notice their child experiencing sudden mood swings, frustration, or overwhelming feelings in response to seemingly minor challenges.
  • Trouble with Working Memory – Working memory challenges mean students might struggle to hold information in their mind while using it. This can affect their ability to solve complex problems or engage in discussions that require recalling and applying information.

Recognizing Executive Function Disorder in high schoolers is vital for providing the necessary support and accommodations. By understanding the key signs and seeking professional guidance, parents can play a crucial role in helping their children navigate the challenges of EFD and achieve success in their academic and personal lives.

Seeking Professional Assistance

Early identification and support for high schoolers with EFD are crucial. Without proper intervention, these students may experience academic underachievement, increased stress, and low self-esteem. It’s essential for parents and educators to recognize these signs and provide appropriate support structures. This could include organizational tools, structured routines, and possibly professional support such as therapy or coaching. If parents suspect their high schooler might have EFD, it’s advisable to seek a professional evaluation and then consider interventions to help children and teens address their ADHD and/or executive function challenges. If you’d like to learn more about how our executive function coaching can provide additional support, please contact us today.

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