8 Ways to Strengthen Executive Functions in Children with Autism

Each person need executive functioning at a fundamental level in order to attain goals, block out distractions, organize work, and restrain impulses. Executive functioning issues will affect a person’s capacity to complete daily duties successfully. Executive function plays a role in almost everything we do.

According to certain studies, executive functioning dysfunction may affect more than 80% of autistic children, which is a prevalent occurrence within the autism community. Executive functioning differences can be particularly troubling. As guardians, you want to help your little angel develop the most independence possible. To help children overcome whatever executive function deficits they may have, it is crucial to teach them coping mechanisms.

Executive functioning includes attention, planning, working memory, self-control, organisation, and planning. Each element is essential to helping a youngster become autonomous and self-sufficient. Our responsibility is to recognise any executive functioning issues that may be present in our pupils and to develop a strategy to address those issues. Fortunately, these abilities can be developed and taught at home. 

How can you help your children with their Executive Function Skills?

1. Organizing skills can be taught through visual aids.
You can create your own visual aids or purchase pre-made ones. They could be printed-out pictures or sketches. It is really beneficial to have some form of visual depiction of what goes where and in what steps so that the child can clearly see where they are heading and what it should look like when they get there. If there is a picture of what belongs in the backpack that your child can look to as they get ready for the day, they will be able to know if they have packed their water, lunch, extra clothing, etc.

2. Divide jobs into manageable pieces.
Getting ready to leave for school in the morning can be a difficult undertaking for persons with autism. It’s lot simpler if you divide up the task into smaller components. Getting out of bed, getting dressed, eating breakfast, going to where your bag is kept, and packing it in accordance with the visual help that is placed next to the bag. followed by shoes, a coat, etc.

3. Keep the areas where items go organised.
Create areas with labels and photos above them, such as this is your basket where your hats and gloves go, this is where your shoes go, and this is where the trash goes. It will eventually become second nature.

4. Don’t rush to the aid.
While juggling children, pets, work, and each other, parents frequently learn and practise great EF abilities. When their children are having difficulties with a skill set that is so strong in the parent, those parents frequently step in with ease. Children don’t learn to do these things for themselves by having their bags organised for them, having their lunches or homework constantly left in the car, or having their room cleaned for them. Setting up a learning process and waiting for your child to try it on their own takes more time, but in the end, the only way to improve EF is to plan ways to help and then practise doing them.

5. Simple relaxation exercises
can be taught to kids to help them better control their emotions and impulses. Your child needs to develop the ability to spot when he is beginning to spiral out of control and then use these strategies before things get out of hand. You can snap a photo of your youngster posing with a “upset” expression and a “angry” look in order to encourage him to apply calming tactics. Write soothing techniques or ways to get help that he can use when he starts to feel this way next to each face. You can experiment applying the card and the strategies at home. Breathing deeply or counting to ten are two examples of relaxation techniques. They might gain from learning to move away from someone who is making them furious, asking a teacher for assistance, and practicing calming techniques. Discuss with the bus driver and/or teacher what practical adjustments might be done to help your child retain control if you are aware of the potential cause of an outburst (for example, loud music on the bus). This might be as easy as having your child put on headphones to listen to his own music or putting a card with his soothing techniques at his workstation and on the bus seat.

6. By demonstrating how things can change and reassuring your youngster
that it’s “no big deal,” you can teach them how to be adaptable. This can be demonstrated by transforming an everyday item, such as a funnel, into a unicorn, party hat, or trumpet. Finally, you can create your own game rules, such as making players climb slides and slide down ladders in Chutes and Ladders or reversing the bases in kickball. You can also make very little adjustments to your child’s daily schedule to teach him how to adapt to unforeseen changes. By using terms like “no big deal” or “zigger-zagger,” you can help your toddler understand that change is okay.

7. Finding a few particular habits that your child can concentrate on at home and at school will help them manage their own conduct.
You may choose options like “Ask others how their day is” and “Say hello to people when you go into a room,” for instance. Stay away from ambiguous actions like “be good” and “be polite.” On a card that your youngster can carry, write down these actions. When your child has the chance to demonstrate the behaviour, check to see if they followed the instructions on the card. Give them a high-five if they did. If not, gently nudge them toward the action they ought to strive to remember. So that they can be effective at school, give this to your child’s teachers.

8. Set aside a lot of patience and time.
For how long? More time than it would take you to complete it. This may include doing it the previous evening for some parents and children. Although it will take longer than you anticipate, you should give them as much time as possible to complete the task independently so that they can learn. Pick an alternative period to master skills if you are ever in a serious hurry. If you’re stressed for time, there are always chances available, so there’s no need to add more stress.

Hope these tips prove to be helpful but it is important to note that you may be the parent but at the same time it is not necessary to handle the situation alone. Just the way your child can welcome help, so should you! Therefore, it is highly recommended to reach out and seek professional help for