I CAN Network Resources to Help Young People with Executive Functioning Challenges
The I CAN Network have made available online a downloadable tip sheet, “Executive Functioning & Anxiety: Insights & Tips for Adults Who Support Autistic Young People“, which also contains tips for the classroom and home, along with recommended resources.
They have also included a complementary tip sheet, ‘Getting Things Done – Tips For Our Younger Autistic Peers’ which contains practical advice for young people (see below).
In addition to these Autistic-crafted tip sheets on Executive Functioning, I CAN Network also have an array of other tip sheets to support the wellbeing of Autistic young people including:
- Managing Overwhelm (Meltdowns, Shutdowns & Burnouts)
- Support for Autistic LGBTIQA+ Young People
- Nurturing Self-Esteem Pride In Autistic Young People and more
Key Insights to Helping People with Executive Functioning Challenges
- APPRECIATE THAT EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING ISN’T JUST PLANNING, ORGANISING AND TIME MANAGEMENT.
It also includes prioritisation, problem solving & flexible thinking, working memory, self awareness & self regulation, task initiation to task completion, attention and self advocacy. Many of us Autistic/Neurodivergent people find these things quite difficult.
- RECOGNISE THE IMPORTANCE OF LANGUAGE & MINDSETS.
Often young people who have poor executive functioning skills are labelled disorganised, messy, resistant, underachievers, daydreamers, manipulative or disruptive. But they are really just young people who lack skills to be able to carry out certain functions without meaningful support and understanding.
- UNDERSTAND THAT ANXIETY AND EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING ARE INTERCONNECTED.
When your anxiety goes up, your executive functioning capability goes down and with it, your performance. This reduces your confidence and your motivation, which can create a downward spiral unless support is put in place. Reducing anxiety for your young person – through things like sensory accommodations and clarity around expectations, for instance – is central to supporting their executive functioning capability.
- BE THAT SAFE PERSON.
Your young person/student might feel confused, frustrated and embarrassed that everyone else around them seems to have solid executive functioning skills and they do not. You are more likely to be able to help if the young person trusts you, feels safe and does not think you’ll judge them.
- DEVELOP A COLLABORATIVE PLAN WITH YOUR YOUNG PERSON.
Work with your young person on a plan. Quick, simple changes that can be implemented every day are likely to be more effective than something that takes two weeks to learn, but the young person gives up before it becomes a habit. It should be a team effort, the young person doesn’t necessarily have to make all the changes. Start with what is getting in the way the most, or where the young person wants to start.
- CONTINUE TO SEEK OUT AUTISTIC & OTHER NEURODIVERGENT VOICES.
Executive functioning and its impact on daily living and sense of self are common themes among Autistic/Neurodivergent authors, bloggers and vloggers (see links embedded in the tip sheets below as examples). Seeking out these insights will not only help you understand and support your young person more effectively, it will help reassure your young person that they are not alone.
- Find out more about these resources and other helpful programs at I CAN Network online