ADHD And Executive Function

You may be wondering how a speech and language pathologist could help a child who has ADHD. The fact is, research shows that 75-80% of people with ADHD have an Auditory Processing Disorder, which involves deficits in the way a person hears and interprets the world of sound.

In fact, up to 50% of people diagnosed with ADHD possibly don’t have ADHD at all. This is why at CTS we are committed to ensuring every individual gets a correct diagnosis and the appropriate treatment – so he or she can go on to live a full and successful life.

What Is ADHD?

ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) is a term you’ve likely heard thrown around when child behavior is discussed. Perhaps a teacher or school counselor has even suggested that your child displays some of the hallmark symptoms of ADHD – a label no parent wants to be applied to their child.

What you probably haven’t heard about as frequently is something called Executive Function Disorder (EFD). In fact, ADHD not only involves being easily distracted, but also affects motivation to begin and complete tasks that are not their choice. Tasks of an individual’s choosing can elicit hyper focus with difficulty switching gears to be a flexible thinker.  ADHD can involves racing thoughts but it also creates slow responses which  causes weaknesses in  other Executive Function skills. Calm focused attention   is only one component of Executive Function skills. Most often individuals with ADHD have underlying weaknesses in multi sensory processing.

What Is Executive Function?

Executive function is the brain’s self-management processes. ADHD is not just a problem with paying attention, but rather the inability to handle multifaceted information. For example, driving a car in traffic or trying to do more than one thing at a time are activities that can be difficult for people with ADHD. It can be so difficult that they often get frustrated and just shut down.

ADHD affects millions of children and adults. Like many disorders of Executive Function, the severity of a child’s symptoms can range from mild to severe.

What Does ADHD Look Like?

  • ADHD is characterized by:
  • Inattentiveness and difficulty staying focused or being attentive
  • Impulsive or hyperactive behavior
  • Hyperfocus on one area of interest to the exclusion of everything else

Some children display ADHD symptoms as early as age three. But in general, most symptoms will appear by 3rd or 4th grade when learning to read changes to reading to learn.

Your child might not be hyperactive, but he may have a difficult time focusing in school and at home. He might be full of impulsive energy, but not particularly inattentive. Then again he may display some mix of both – the most common.

The Attention Deficit Part Of ADHD

  • Trouble staying focused – not just on tasks but also in play
  • Appearing not to hear direct speech or instruction (but hyper-focused on other things, particularly screens)
  • Difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  • Inability to focus on or finish schoolwork or making careless errors in the process
  • Trouble understanding instructions

The Hyperactivity Part of ADHD

  • Difficulty staying still – tapping, fidgeting, etc.
  • Interrupt conversations or blurting out answers to questions
  • Constant motion, always “on-the-go, and touching things inappropriately
  • Attempting to climb things in situations where that is not appropriate

You might read this list and think that a lot of it sounds like “normal kid stuff.” But ADHD symptoms are different. They seem weird and often make people uncomfortable. That is why the right type of assessment is so crucial.

Because ADHD and Executive Function Disorders can continue into adulthood, getting a correct diagnosis is essential. The ability to pay attention and learn depends upon strong vision and listening skills. It also depends on having a mature sensory processing system.

If you’re worried about ADHD in your child, we’re here to help.