Executive functions are skills that are housed in the frontal lobe of our brain.  The easiest way to remember what they are is to think of an executive in a company and the types of responsibilities that they have:  planning ahead, initiating, organizing, managing their time, delegating tasks, reviewing and analyzing, etc.  I often say that being ‘smart’ does not matter if you do not have the executive functions to pull it all together.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of the work of Dr. Gail Richard.  I was reviewing some of her materials and thought this piece is too good not to share.  It is taken directly from “The Source for Development of Executive Functions” (2005) written by Gail Richard and Jill Fahy.

Impairments Associated with Deficits in Executive Functions:


  • Disorganized discourse
  • Tangential, wandering narrative lacking in point and sequence
  • Failure to comprehend main theme or idea despite understanding specific words or sentences
  • Reduced ability to use self-talk
  • Inattentive, impulsive listening affects comprehension or memory
  • Lack of initiation limits completeness of communication

Pragmatic & Social Interaction:

  • Poor ability to take others’ perspective
  • Inability to transition
  • Impaired recognition of nonverbal or subtle cues
  • Poor inhibition of impulsive desires or plans
  • Inaccurate judgment of situations
  • Inappropriate, impulsive or dangerous behaviour

Processing & Reasoning:

  • Limited abstract reasoning
  • Difficulty recognizing relevant vs. irrelevant input
  • Difficulty drawing conclusions and making inferences
  • Limited divergent thinking
  • Limited ability to predict consequences or outcomes

Problem Solving & Learning:

  • Impaired strategic thinking
  • Limited ability to generate multiple solutions
  • Difficulty generalizing to other contexts
  • Trouble learning from consequences
  • Impaired ability to carry out instructions or tasks to completion
  • Impulsive attempts with failed outcomes
  • Unable to recognize failure or the need to revise strategies


  • Difficulty retaining information long enough to execute steps
  • Forget to execute tasks or be where necessary at a given time
  • Recall information out of sequential or temporal order, including verbal directions
  • Failure to integrate long-term memories of past experiences into future directions


If you recognize some of the features listed in your child (or maybe even a few traits apply to yourself at times!), our team is available and equipped with information and strategies.