What Is Executive Function?

If you have a child diagnosed with ADHD, or you have ADHD, you may have heard the term “executive function” – from a treatment specialist or in your own research and reading – and wondered exactly what it is.
In terms of how executive function relates to ADHD, understanding a little bit about it goes a long way to understanding the behaviour of someone diagnosed with the disorder.

So what is it? Its difficult to explain in laymen’s terms because so much of it is learned as you grow and it becomes second nature…
My favourite adult ADHD blogger, Zoë Kessler, wrote the following in a blog post:

I should have had an inkling about my absent ability to self-observe from the number of times I was told as a child, “I wish you could hear yourself!

Have you ever told your child with ADHD the same thing? How many times have you wanted to ask your ADHD son or daughter why they can’t remember to put their shoes on or brush their teeth every day?
Executive function affects just about everything you do, every day! Executive function is self-observation. Not learning from yesterday’s disaster’s is an inability to self-observe. Not remembering you were late yesterday because you didn’t leave the house on time is a lack of executive function.

If you are neuro-typical*, you know how to start your work day- whether its a set of tasks you perform every day or every day is different- you know, without thinking too hard about it, what to do to start each task and how to complete it. You know how to finish your work in order to make sure you meet deadlines and you can get home by a specific time every day.
You can estimate fairly accurately how much time has passed or how much time you have left for a deadline or before you change tasks without looking at a clock.
This is your executive function at work.
You know you have to get up at a certain time every morning in order to shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, pack a lunch and drive to school or work. As you grow and mature, you develop an innate intuition that constantly tells you- unconsciously- how much time you have left for a set of tasks- you know how long it takes you to eat breakfast, put make-up on, drive to work, and so on.
This is your executive function at work.

If you are neuro-atypical**, you are seldom on time without taking extreme steps or having someone assist you. If you have a child with ADHD this may go a little way to explaining drama you have in the morning – every SINGLE day.
Someone with ADHD can see the big picture in their heads. They can see the end product in every glorious detail, but the planning that is necessary to follow through with a task isn’t there.
They have no inhibition- they agree to plans and/ or invitations without checking a calendar or speaking to the rest of their family first.
Their working memory isn’t very good, meaning they battle to hold onto information long enough to use it to complete a task.
They’re always running out of tools and resources because they don’t properly plan, which links back to working memory.
They have no emotional control, its either hysterically funny or its the end of the world, and these reactions are aggravated by their frustration with not completing tasks or being criticised for bad or no organisation.

How does Executive Function affect learning? In school, at home or in the workplace, we’re called on all day, every day, to self-regulate behavior. Normally, features of executive function are seen in a person’s ability to:

  • make plans
  • keep track of time & keep track of more than one thing at once
  • meaningfully include past knowledge in discussions
  • engage in group dynamics
  • evaluate ideas, change their mind & make mid-course and corrections while thinking, reading & writing
  • reflect on their work
  • finish work on time
  • ask for help
  • wait to speak until they’re called on
  • seek more information when they need it

So yes, children and adults with ADHD come across as lazy and unorganised, and yes executive function can be improved and coping mechanisms learned, but it takes a lot of time and a lot of focus.

Links you might want to click to read more about it:

Executive functioning, very simply put, is that part of the brain that coordinates and organizes information
Executive functions let you organize a trip, a research project, or a paper for school
Helping Children with Executive Functioning Problems Stop Irritating Behavior
Helping Children with Executive Functioning Problems to Manage Physical Impulsiveness
Helping Children with Executive Functioning Problems Turn In Their Homework
Lazy Kid or Executive Dysfunction?
* your brain works “normally”, you do not have ADHD
**your brain is wired differently, you have ADHD
Disclaimer: I am not a professional anything. I have ADHD – not officially diagnosed – and I’m a mom to an adult with ADHD. What I write is based on what I have learned in living with and researching mine and my son’s disorder.

Just About Four Weeks Of Dieting

And whilst my Glugster has done really well, the fourth week was a friggin disaster for me!

On Tuesday morning last week I left for Cape Town for the launch of a brand new Ford Kuga, which meant two days of not enough water and eating all wrong! Sweets, cheese, Coke, crisps, wine, a buffet breakfast with too many pastries… And then when I was waiting for my sweetheart to fetch me from the airport on Wednesday afternoon I had a slice of apple pie with cream! It was all so sinfully divine!
Then on Thursday and Friday I just seemed to carry on regardless! I still had my meals and snacks as scheduled, but I didn’t drink enough water and I picked at all kinds of other foods whilst I baked and worked – meringue and cake off-cuts, caramel, chocolate ganache, cream cheese, leftover pasta…

Oh dear.

Whatever I may have lost in week three I have certainly gained back – and perhaps even some of what I lost in the first two weeks.
And I get very annoyed with myself when I cheat. Even while I’m doing it I am irritated that I’m doing it. Especially when I remind myself that my Glugster isn’t cheating!

This weekend I’ve gone back to how I am supposed to eat, helped immensely by having my husband here with me. I have hit the reset button and will again work to stick to my diet as prescribed by our dietitian.

We have had some success with making our food interesting too. We usually make a lot of food for supper and then pack lunches of the same thing. My hubby takes breakfast, lunch and two snacks packed in a sixpack cooler and he has a copy of his eating plan at work with him.
My mid-morning snack of fruit and yoghurt is delicious when I combine the two in a bowl, and a breakfast of two chopped boiled eggs and onion on low GI toast is very filling.
We do “regular” suppers like roast chicken with rice and veggies or spagbol with veggies, but my husband’s staff were quite flabbergasted when he arrived at work with a cheeseburger for lunch the other day, and it was perfectly balanced.
A low GI bun, a homemade beef patty (made without breadcrumbs), tomato, onion, a gherkin slice or two, a little cheese or little lite mayo. Add a fresh fruit- apple/ banana/ pear/ orange- or a cup of raw or cooked veggies and its a very tasty and very filling meal.
Grilled chicken or hake gets roughly chopped with tomato, onion, peppers, peas, rice or pasta, and a little lite mayo or avo to make a yummy cold salad.
For tuna sarnies I add a tablespoon of lite mayo, chopped tomato, onion, peppers and gherkins with low GI bread.
For a picnic we went on a while ago we had ham, cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion sarnies on low GI bread!
Homemade meatballs (also made without breadcrumbs) served with rice or pasta, veggies and a “salsa” of tomato, green peppers and onion.
We’ve realised we prefer to have a finely chopped “salsa” of sorts than a more conventional salad.
Ooh and Harassed Mom gave me some ideas for including eggplant in our veggies which I love, and am going to try tomorrow night for the first time, so thanks for that Laura-Kim!

Make no mistake, we’re eating well. And the knucklehead eats what we eat, I just give him more carbs and less veggies, and he’s allowed to eat the cake off cuts we’re not eating anymore. 😀

Hopefully when we go back to the dietitian in about three weeks I will have been able to correct the damage I did last week!

What do you do to make “diet” food interesting or more appealing without breaking the rules?

The @FordSouthAfrica #KugaLaunch

~~As per my Ladybloggers pledge, I was not paid to attend the event nor was I paid to write this blog post, and all opinions contained herein are mine and mine alone.~~

Being invited to a product launch or an event of some kind is ALWAYS a pleasure, and a Ford vehicle launch is no exception. Getting to drive a fabulous new vehicle and being put up in luxurious hotels is simply glorious!

On Tuesday morning I was flown to Cape Town courtesy of Ford South Africa, and even though @TanyaKovarsky and @laurakim123 were both on the plane, I ended up between some much older people who didn’t stop talking… But its my own fault for trying to practise my mingling skills!
Once we arrived in a rather chilly CT, we were plied with coffee and snacks whilst waiting for the full complement of bloggers and journos to arrive, and I finally got to meet @cupcakemummy in the flesh!
Then after an intro to the all new Kuga, we quickly partnered up and made a mad dash for the keys with everyone trying to get a first drive in the top-of-the-range Titanium.

I really could go on and on and on, but I am going to try and keep it as short as I can without leaving out too much awesomeness…

Kuda introducing the all new Kuga to the gathered bloggers and journos

Kuda introducing the all new Kuga to the gathered bloggers and journos

@laurakim123 looking fab behind the wheel of the all new Kuga

@laurakim123 looking fab behind the wheel of the all new Kuga

@Cupcakemummy experiencing the slightly spooky Park Assist

@Cupcakemummy experiencing the slightly spooky Park Assist

Look ma! No hands! Moi trying out the Titanium Park assist!

Look ma! No hands! Moi trying out the Titanium Park assist!

@cupcakemummy getting a golf lesson - apparently she managed to hit a duck...

@cupcakemummy getting a golf lesson – apparently she managed to hit a duck…

The Spa at Arabella where I had a magnificent neck and back massage

The Spa at Arabella where I had a magnificent neck and back massage

Nothing like a road trip in an awesome car...

Nothing like a road trip in an awesome car…

How divine was my room!??!

How divine was my room!??!

A bit of a messy panoramic view of the scenery outside my hotel room balcony

A bit of a messy panoramic view of the scenery outside my hotel room balcony

The breathtaking entrance to the Arabella Hotel & Spa

The breathtaking entrance to the Arabella Hotel & Spa

Arrival at Arabella Hotel & Spa

Arrival at Arabella Hotel & Spa

From behind the swimming pool waterfall at Arabella Hotel

From behind the swimming pool waterfall at Arabella Hotel

We spent the night at the Arabella Hotel & Spa, where we were not only afforded the luxury of some precious free time but were treated to either a massage or a golf lesson! Guess which one I opted for… 🙂 We were also given a chance to try out the park assist functionality first hand (see below) and before heading into Hermanus for a glorious outdoor dinner in a Forest Theatre with an operatic duo providing entertainment, we covered the business side of the launch with presentations by Ford’s Dean Stonely and Kuda Takura.

My dinner company @laurakim123 @cupcakemummy @TanyaKovarsky

My dinner company @laurakim123 @cupcakemummy @TanyaKovarsky

The opera duo who entertained us at dinner

The opera duo who entertained us at dinner

So typical of social media users at a function!

So typical of social media users at a function!

As I knew it would, the Kuga impressed me no end.

The new Kuga looks a lot more aggressive than the previous Kuga which should make it even more appealing to the husbands of the moms who will fall in love with this car!

OfficialFordKugaPhoto_15

The Ford Kuga (official photo)

The Ford Kuga (official photo)

The Ford Kuga (official photo)

I did the first half of the drive to Kleinmond with Harassed Mom navigating, and I only almost-stalled it twice (being used to driving an automatic), and then we switched halfway there with Laura-Kim driving the dirt roads! I was first to drive the Titanium the next day as well – on a different route – with the half-way switch meaning Laura-Kim had her first go at driving an automatic.
On the drive to the hotel we drove the 1.6EcoBoost Trend with a 6-speed manual gearbox, then on the way back to the airport the next day we drove the 2.0TDCi Titanium which is an automatic with the SelectShift option.
The Kuga is an SUV, so its a big car, but it doesn’t feel like one when you’re behind the wheel. And with an urban fuel consumption of 8.3L/ 100km for the Trend and just 7.4L/ 100km for the Titanium, it won’t feel like a big car when you’re refuelling either.
The new Kuga is longer, lower and narrower than its predecessor and it handles like a dream. The power is great and there is almost no lag when you put your foot down to overtake, or to *coff* experience its power a little bit. The steering wheel is small enough that you don’t feel like you’re steering a tractor and the doors are sturdy enough to give a nice “thunk” when you close them but you don’t have to dislocate your shoulder to pull them shut from inside. Its spacious and comfortable, and the automatic gear changes are seamless. The Kuga’s front seats can be adjusted six ways, with lumbar support, and the back seats can be reclined! And all the Kuga’s come with the push-button start which I love.

www.ford.co.za

www.ford.co.za

Even the Kuga's engine looks classy!

Even the Kuga’s engine looks classy!

The Kuga's trip computer has several different displays

The Kuga’s trip computer has several different displays

The Kuga's dashboard and centre console (official photos)

The Kuga’s dashboard and centre console (official photos)

And it has an incredible FIVE STAR EURO NCAP safety rating! Do you know how hard it is to get five stars!??!

The Ford Kuga Titanium with Rooiels in the background

The Ford Kuga Titanium with Rooiels in the background

Looking at the Kuga from a woman’s “…ooh look another cup holder…” perspective, there are eight of them! More than enough in the front and the back and there are even trays in the back that fold down for the passengers to use! And with me loving all the fiddly bits on a car- there is hidden storage under the back seats, the centre console space can hold a 1.5L bottle, and there’s a 230-volt inverter in the back of the car for laptops or chargers! The seats fold flat quite easily, and the load floor can be adjusted for when you need a level surface – like transporting boxes and boxes of cake and cupcakes!!

The Kuga Titanium's Hands Free Tailgate

The Kuga Titanium’s Hands Free Tailgate

The tailgate on the Titanium opens on its own power, you can open it with the remote for when your hands are full, and on the Titanium you can add the mind blowingly fabulous Hands Free Tailgate functionality where you can open AND close the door with a swish of your foot under the bumper!

The Park Assist functionality is an optional extra on the Titanium, and its a fantastic-futuristic-slighty-creepy option at that. Using the sensors in the car to tell you when to brake, you take your hands OFF the steering wheel and it neatly parallel parks itself. Sitting in the driver’s seat watching that steering wheel spin is a slightly surreal experience and it had Cupcake Mummy and myself giggling our heads off in disbelief.

Here’s a video demonstrating how the All-Wheel-Drive was tested on the Kuga (AKA Escape in North America), AWD makes driving easier but its also a phenomenal safety feature..

I would go out tomorrow and buy myself a Kuga if I could. In Frozen White or Moondust Silver.

Ooh! And do check out these links to the blog posts written by some of the other bloggers who were at the launch – Cupcakes and SailorsWiscellaneousRattle and Mum and Harassed Mom!

We’re Still On It…

So today we’ve been on our diet for three weeks.

At our two week check in with the dietitian she weighed us and gave us a slightly “friendlier” eating plan than the one we’d been on for the first two weeks. As with the kick start phase, we each have our own plan as my Glugster – being a man – is allowed a little more food than I am. She split his afternoon snack into two so that he’s not half starved when he gets home from work, and she split my morning snack into two so that I can resist the temptation of sweets while I am working in my kitchen. We’re now also allowed a little Coke Zero or other diet drinks, but must still keep fizzy drinks and sugar to an absolute minimum.
I lost 1.5kg in the first two weeks, and we had cheated a little over the Easter weekend. I was very pleased with how little we’d actually bent the rules over Easter, and we went right back to eating according to our plan. She will be happy with me losing half a kilo a week but I would like to lose a little more – which she says is possible with more exercise.
We go back to see her in a month’s time.

We are upping our exercise levels – we did a few laps of the dog park yesterday where we usually sit or stand under a tree for the majority of our visit, we take the stairs instead of the lift, I’m trying to walk faster when I walk Riddick and I discovered that simply running around the back lawn playing ball with my puppy is quite a workout indeed! I’m also thinking of getting a skipping rope or a hulahoop…

We’re sticking to our eating plan on weekends, and whilst I know its a long term life style change and we feel better and we’re making progress and and and, I get really fed up with having to prepare food three times a day! I LIKE ordering a pizza or getting KFC, and having so many fargin dishes EVERY day of the week is annoying. And make no mistake, my Glugster is cooking too – I’m not doing it alone.

But I hate what I look like more than I hate having to prepare food several times a day and unpack and repack the dishwasher constantly.

We took “BEFORE” photos of ourselves a couple of days after we started our diet, and we’ve decided to take a new picture every month so that we can see any visible changes as well as being encouraged by the weigh-in at the dietitian’s office. I won’t be posting them here until we reach our goal weights – which between the two of us is a whole nother person – and we have a semi-decent “AFTER” picture to post alongside it!!

Our #SAGApupVolt Has Graduated!

Wow.

So wow.

Today our Volt graduated from guide-dog training with his partner.
We got to watch him show off his training with his partner by walking down a public street in Houghton- navigating stop streets, a traffic circle, pedestrians, open shop doors, restaurant tables on a sidewalk, a barking dog, a boy whistling at him- whilst we were dead quiet and staying out of sight as much as possible on the opposite side of the street.
It was amazing. And he has a wonderful partner.
We won’t see much of him as he’ll be living in the Cape, but we know he’s going to be happy. He’s going to a house full of people and he and his new partner are very close with Volt responding immediately to his instructions. They’ve spent the last three weeks bonding and training together, and he has already gotten to know many of Volt’s mannerisms and foibles… 😀

Volt is still a super high-energy dog and he was so happy to see us! He and Damien had a lovely run – on lead – around the kids’ playground at SAGA to get rid of some of his excitement, and then we chatted, taking turns to hold Volt’s lead while we had cake and tea and got to know Volt’s partner a little.

We were given a portrait of Volt, wearing his harness, posing with his new partner for our wall at home.

It was such an incredible experience and I didn’t cry all afternoon – but the more I look at the pictures and the more I think of what our boy has achieved the bigger the lump in my throat gets!

In case you’re wondering, in the pictures where Volt is wearing his harness he is also wearing something called a Gentle Leader. Its not a muzzle but it is used to stop a dog from surging ahead and pulling on the lead or harness (follow the link to read more about it).

And hopefully, towards the end of May, we’ll be getting a new SAGA puppy to raise!

click on the puppy to make a donation to SAGA.
Follow @SAGuide_Dogs on Twitter and on Facebook!