ABCs for Life Success

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Assessment of Executive Functioning Skills

Dear Parent, Thank you so much for writing to me about your elementary school aged son with Asperger's and giftedness--he's twice exceptional.  :)

You are wondering if you should request an evaluation in the area of executive functioning at your son's upcoming IEP meeting. You'd like me to make recommendations, and your goal for him  is greater independence with specific goals in the IEP.

As you probably know, one test or data point should not be used to make decisions. Therefore, multiple ways to evaluate your son's executive functioning would be my recommendation.  I hope to break down executive functioning a bit and make some suggestions for evaluation.

But first, let me talk a bit about the timing of making a request for evaluation.  I would not wait until the upcoming meeting to make the request.  I think it's best to put your request in writing to the team, before the meeting, so that at the meeting, the team can discuss your request and give you an answer as to what the team will agree to do and how it would like to do it.

There is not one test for executive functioning. A competent psychologist would use aspects of cognitive tests and other tests to explore executive functioning. The psychologist or neuropsychologist can also give rating scales to teachers, and parents, and related service providers.  It's important to carefully consider who should fill out rating forms as executive functions can appear different in different settings. There should also be practical observations and data collection from the classroom, to determine the extent to which the aspects of EF are affecting classroom performance and to tease out what aspects of EF are affecting your son's progress or access to the curriculum.

I found this really cool slide show that breaks down the cognitive process and describes some of the formal tools that can be used to explore the EF areas.

EF is commonly seen as a set of cognitive processes that affect planning, organization, emotional control, and task completion, among others.  Initiation of task, attention, gathering resources, inhibition, and memory skills can all be relevant skills for a child with problems with EFs.

Here is a very detailed and technical, but useful, course summary by Russell Barkley, a leader in the field.  It talks about pros and cons of various assessment tools among other things.

I think these links will give you plenty of information.
Don't forget, my consultants and I at ABCs for Life Success audit IEPs, advise parents about their rights including obtaining an independent evaluation at public expense if warranted, and we make expert recommendations for how your child's "paper program" or IEP and "real life program" or school placement may be improved to better meet his needs.

My  Special Needs Advocacy Resource Book details evaluations, scores, how to interpret scores, and even has sample letters to request the evaluation.  My  School Success for Kids with Emotional Behavioral Disorders book details positive behavior interventions and the right way to do a functional behavior assessment.  Check them  out on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Prufrock Press.  Behavior assessment is needed to develop a proper and well-informed behavior intervention plan, which becomes part of the IEP, and can be very relevant to working with the EFs.

Again, thank you very much for writing to me on All Experts Dot Com..  I hope I have given you the information you are seeking.  I wish you all the best as you advocate for your child!

Sincerely, Michelle Davis Owner and Founder

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