This is the twentieth in a series of brief posts during October — global ADHD Awareness Month. Each features a quote that relates to ADHD and neurodiversity. ​​​

“. . . the term executive skills comes from the neuroscience literature and refers to the brain-based skills that are required for humans to execute, or perform, tasks.

  The scheme [Dawson and Guare] arrived at consists of 11 skills:
  • Response inhibition
  • Working memory
  • Emotional control
  • Sustained attention
  • Task initiation
  • Planning/prioritization
  • Organization
  • Time management
  • Goal-directed persistence
  • Flexibility
  • Megacognition​​​​​​​

– Peg Dawson and Richard Guar,  Smart but Scattered

Since Dawson and Guare wrote this book in 2009, they have added another executive skill to bring their list to twelve:
  • Stress tolerance

Everyone uses executive skills every day. Some of us have access to more of them than others, and some acquire them earlier than others.

We acquire executive skills through processes of biology and experience. Those processes can be delayed in individuals with ADHD so that the “scattered” description often applies quite appropriately. Executive skill delays or challenges have nothing to do with intelligence, hence the title of Dawson and Guare’s book, Smart but Scattered.

Since ‘you can’t do what your brain can’t do,’ folks with ADHD may not be able to demonstrate executive skills at the same ages as their peers. They can’t because ADHD brain development in those areas is delayed by up to 30 percent.

Some executive skills may never fully develop. As a result, mature adults may be unable to notice the passage of time (Time Management) or be good in the area of self-awareness (Metacognition) or find it easy to prioritize (Planning and prioritization) or pay attention (Sustained attention). Those people need to find ways to accommodate for the skills that are lagging.

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