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The ADHD Book of Lists: A Practical Guide for Helping Children and Teens with Attention Deficit Disorders, 2nd Edition by Sandra F. Rief

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1.2 ADHD and the “Executive Functions”

Based on extensive research, ADHD is now recognized as a disorder in the development of executive functions—a person's self-management and self-regulatory abilities. The current belief is that impairment of executive functions is the underlying problem causing the symptoms associated with ADHD. People with ADHD experience a wide range of executive dysfunction issues that can vary from person to person. What are the executive functions and how is executive function (EF) impairment related to ADHD?

Definitions of Executive Function (EF)

EFs have been described in many ways:

  • The management functions (overseers) of the brain or the management system of the brain
  • Cognitive control skills
  • The self-directed actions individuals use to help maintain control of themselves and accomplish goals
  • The range of central control processes in the brain that activate, organize, focus, integrate, and manage other brain functions and cognitive skills
  • The higher-order cognitive processes involved in the self-regulation of behavior
  • A term used to describe the complex nature of cognitive processes involved in identifying, setting, maintaining through, and meeting goals despite distractions and problems along the way
  • Cognitive processes or brain functions that enable a person to engage in problem-solving and goal-directed behaviors
  • The brain's control center that orchestrates resources in memory, language, and attention to achieve a goal
  • Broad set of cognitive skills ...

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