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executive Function & adhd

The conditions of ADHD and executive function are not necessarily mutually exclusive nor interchangeable, but rather interdependent. The majority of ADHD-related obstacles are closely tied to executive function capabilities. Nevertheless, deficient executive function abilities may arise from causes other than ADHD, such as various learning characteristics. Consequently, individuals with ADHD, as well as those without, may face difficulties related to weaker executive function skills.

executive Function

Executive function (EF) represents a collection of self-management abilities, encompassing working memory, flexible thinking, and self-control. Serving as the brain's central control unit, it coordinates various functions, including planning, filtering out distractions, prioritizing tasks, setting goals, and managing emotions and impulsive behaviors, among others. These abilities are intricately interdependent and require coordinated action within the brain.

These capabilities are continuously utilized in everyday life to identify and execute optimal courses of action. For individuals with weaker executive function, significant effort may be necessary to initiate and follow through with tasks from beginning to end. As a result, they may experience challenges in organizing and regulating behavior to sustain engagement with a given process and bring the task to completion.

Types of Executive Function Skills

  • Self-Regulation ----------------->

  • Attention & Focus --------------->


  • Task Initiation & Completion --->

  • Organization -------------------->

  • Planning & Prioritizing --------->


  • Time Management ------------->

  • Flexibility ------------------------>

Managing stress, anxiety, and impulsive behaviors

Develop scaffolding for the better attention span


Create a routine to start the task and remain engaged


Keep track of physical or digital materials or information


Map out the project and break it into smaller tasks


Allocate enough time to work on tasks or plan ahead to be on time

Adapt to sudden changes to a plan or situation

Executive Function Self Assessment Form Download

Test Yourself


ADHD is a neurological condition that involves a developmental impairment of the self-management system, with hallmark characteristics of inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. These features can manifest in both children and adults, with a reported 6 million children (9.4%) in the United States being diagnosed before the age of 17. Among adults, an estimated 4-5% have ADHD, but many remain unaware of the condition, with nearly 75% of the affected population going undiagnosed. While some individuals may outgrow ADHD by adulthood, others continue to exhibit these symptoms throughout their lives.

The majority of ADHD-related challenges are closely linked to executive function skills, with up to 90% of individuals with ADHD experiencing executive function impairments. However, it is important to note that executive function challenges do not always indicate the presence of ADHD, as other factors may contribute to the impairment of these skills.

Typical ADHD Behaviors

  • Emotional Outburst

  • Working with Teammates

  • Flexibility or Compromise

  • Transitioning 

  • Perfectionism & Being Overwhelmed

  • Self-Criticism

  • Sensitivity to Comments

  • Resisting & Arguing

  • Procrastination

  • Hyperactivity & Distractibility

  • Specific Learning Modality

  • Time Blindness

  • Remote Learning

  • Lack of Motivation

These traits translate into behaviors like:

  • Give up too soon when not interested or hard 

  • Estimate required time and plan ahead

  • Initiate tasks 

  • Adjust to sudden changes    

  • Complete tasks and follow through

  • Lack of motivation until the last minute

  • Take too long to transition between tasks 

  • Keep track of personal belongings

  • Emotional outbursts when the pressure gets too high

  • Self-criticism & withdrawn

  • Engage in uninteresting tasks

  • Too much time spent but accomplishing little

  • Desire to be perfect/handling disappointments

  • Transitioning from fun tasks to boring tasks

  • Wake up on time and get out of bed

  • Organe notes, data, and materials on the desk

  • When disagreed,​ argue, talk back, or start negotiating

  • Keep up with their daily hygiene

  • Cannot go to bed on time/takes too long to fall asleep

  • Cannot put down phones or quit games 

  • Get overwhelmed 

  • Time blindness

  • Lack of commitment unless interested in

  • Unable to delegate tasks or ask for help

  • Too keen on fairness, if not cannot let it go

  • Lateness


Let's remind ourselves that ADHD is not a character flaw. All ADDers can shine with their great qualities. They can have not just one but a whole bunch of these qualities. 

  • Passionate         

  • Outspoken         

  • Creative                 

  • Fun                             

  • Generous           

  • Humorous          

  • Empathetic         

  • Spontaneous

  • Authentic            

  • Inclusive             

  • Charismatic       

  • Futuristic

  • Out-of-Box Thinker

  • Energetic     

  • Kind                     

  • Outgoing               

  • Big-Hearted

  • Adaptable            

  • Intuitive             

  • Memorable          

  • Friendly

  • Honest                 

  • Entertaining     

  • Curious                 

  • Adventurous

  • Inspiring   

  • Brave    

  • Enthusiastic  

  • Eager

  • Resilient   

  • Influential  

  • Resourceful  

  • Talkative

  • Musical        

  • Inventive    

  • Opinionated   

  • Caring

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