Executive Functions ADHD: What You Need to Know
Executive Functions ADHD: How to Tell the Difference?
There is often confusion when it comes to executive functions, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), and how they work in the brain. Executive functions and ADHD have many connections in how they affect people and their performance in life. It can be difficult to distinguish the differences, and many individuals even question, “How does ADHD affect executive functioning?” Well, to answer that, ADHD symptoms are commonly linked to deficits in executive functions. Now that we know, what are the main differences between executive functioning and ADHD? To start, ADHD is a clinically diagnosed brain disorder while executive dysfunction, or even “executive function disorder,” is not—despite the name. It is solely a deficit.
Instead, an executive function disorder is described as the inability to use skills to attain goals or complete everyday tasks, while ADHD is mainly centered on focus, impulse control, and holding attention. To elaborate more, individuals with ADHD can have issues with executive functioning, but having an executive functioning disorder does not always mean a person has ADD or ADHD. In understanding more about those living with executive functions ADHD, it’s necessary to take a look into when they begin and how they develop.
Executive Functions ADHD: When Do They Begin?
An individual may have difficulty with executive functions, ADHD, or both. Let’s look at the origins for executive functioning and ADHD and how they may have developed. For an adult with ADHD it may have run in the family, come from complications during development or from their surroundings. Regardless, ADHD begins in childhood with 60-90% of kids shown to not outgrow it and continue to have ADHD as an adult. So, how does ADHD affect executive functioning? Executive function skills develop as early as 3 years old and build over time. However, studies show ADHD kids to be about 30-40% behind in their ability to switch through executive function skills. This may carry on into adulthood, as studies show similar symptoms in children with ADHD and adults with ADHD. No matter the age or how it developed, executive functioning ADHD can be improved by learning organization and management strategies. Adults with ADHD tend to feel “stuck,” or that it’s too late to improve as they’ve lived with these complications and have fixed thought patterns built over the years. It’s important to know what signs you recognized growing up and now into adolescence to learn more about improving executive functions, ADHD or both.
Executive Functions ADHD: Symptoms of ADHD and Symptoms of Executive Function Disorder
Some shared symptoms of ADHD and EF deficits:
- Trouble staying focused, easily distracted
- Impulsive acting or behavior
- Poor memory and forgetfulness
- Difficulty staying organized
- Difficulty managing time
- Difficulty controlling emotions
Recognizing symptoms of executive functions, ADHD, or both can actually help in improving the other. Above is listed some commonly shared symptoms between ADHD and executive functioning disorders. As you can see, when it comes to building executive functioning in ADHD, it can also lead to improvement in ADHD. Executive functions skills give you the ability to handle emotions, tasks, and keep organized. These skills can be applied to common ADHD struggles such as anxiety, impulsive behavior, or staying focused. Many adults feel discouraged, or question “How to improve executive function in ADHD adults?” They may believe it’s too late to break habits, have had poor experiences in improving their life, or don’t know where to start. However, it’s never too late to develop executive functions and structure in life. One solution is guidance from an executive functions coach. With a professional, executive functioning ADHD training can help you set goals, and change your lifestyle and thinking patterns even as an adult. This is the same for children and teens. Training executive functions and ADHD has no age limit, and in fact is meant to teach you skills to carry on throughout your life. When working with an EF coach, you’ll receive constant mental and emotional support during executive function training for ADHD. Let’s look at what happens in a coaching session for executive functions ADHD.
Executive Functions ADHD: How to Improve Executive Functions in ADHD Adults
No matter how severe, executive functions ADHD can always be improved. When looking for executive function training for ADHD, it’s important to find an executive functions coach that understands your needs. In the case of adult executive functioning and ADHD coaching, it’s often found that their executive function skills are the results of years of habits. As it’s become a lifestyle, they’ve found themselves unable to break these patterns or have tried treatment in youth but didn’t have success. Thus, adults with executive functions ADHD often feel discouraged and reluctant to try coaching, believing that it’s too late to develop their executive function skills.
However, this is not true if you struggle with executive functions, ADHD, or both. So, “How to improve executive function in ADHD adults?” Firstly, in a consultation, an executive functions coach should assess the history of your ADHD problems or EF deficits. It is also important to process how these events affected you emotionally and mentally. By noting this information, a coach can then connect what executive functions should be prioritized and improved on during your executive functioning ADHD training. Sessions are largely personalized. Therefore, how an EF coach helps you structure your life and what strategies they teach are dependent on the individual. No matter what, an EF coach will help you devise a schedule to reach your goals and teach applicable skills. Remember, success in life is attainable even with executive functioning ADHD.