Review: Executive Function “Dysfunction”

Executive Function “Dysfunction” – Strategies for Educators and Parents – Rebecca Moyes

executive functionExecutive function is a theory that basically covers the things involved with planning tasks, maintaining attention, managing impulses, and generally getting day-to-day activities, as well as academic or work related activities done. Difficulties with executive function can be seen in autism, ADD/ADHD, global delay, depression, anxiety and in people without diagnosed conditions. So chances are, teachers are going to have students who with have difficulties with aspects of executive function.

The book starts with an example of a parent teacher conference for a student with executive function difficulties and then goes straight into explaining what executive dysfunction is. There are a lot of anecdotes and mini-examples used to illustrate points and this supports the information well by providing clear examples of executive dysfunction.

What follows is chapters for individual components involved in executive function including behavioural inhibition, theory of mind, working memory, planning and organisation skills, stress and support, and motivation and initiation. Within each of these chapters Moyes gives examples, discusses the theory and research behind each area and (where relevant) how it is tested, and then gives strategies and advice for how to help and accommodate these areas.

To go along with these sections are resources or worksheets, and examples of IEPs and goals or 504 plans. These are a bit uneven in quality. Some of the worksheets and resources are quite good, others are limited and I honestly wouldn’t bother using them. I also was not impressed with the IEP goals largely being based around the “x out of x tries” approach. This method of IEP goals just isn’t all that valuable and (I can only speak for the UK) there has been a move away from these types of goals.

The inconsistent quality in these sections however does not undermine the value of this book as a good introduction and guide to executive dysfunction. There will be children in almost every class that will have difficulties covered in this book and that makes it a valuable resource for most teachers.

Is it worth reading?

Yes – executive function is not particularly well known despite being fairly well-researched and supported. Many children would benefit from a teacher being aware of the points covered in this book.

Value for money?

¬£14 in the UK and $10 in the US (for the ebook), and since executive dysfunction can affect a wide range of students in different ways, yes this book does give value for money. Of course, it’s always worth seeing if your school can be convinced of it’s value since that way it can reach more staff for the price.

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