Executive functioning is a high level thinking skill that controls and regulates other thinking and behaviour skills.
This includes the ability to initiate and cease actions, attending to a task in spite of distractions, monitor behaviour, adapt or change behaviour when needed, plan how to do tasks, use strategies to achieve success, learn from mistakes, multi-task, anticipate outcomes and think abstractly.
Executive functioning is crucial for coping with real life. We need to be able to assess situations, understand why a situation is as it appears, work out how to handle it, adapt and make alternative plans as situations change and deal with the unexpected. We also learn to inhibit inappropriate behaviour and control impulses such as saying or doing things that could cause trouble or misunderstanding. We often need to be able to do a number of things at the same time, automatically and efficiently.
If executive functioning is not working well there are implications for communication and socialising.
Executive functioning normally develops over the entire length of the childhood years.
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