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How You Can Boost Executive Function Skills and What Kind of Challenges You Might Face with Sean McCormick

Executive function skills and challenges
Photo: Sean McCormick

In this episode of the Autism Resource Podcast Gilda’s guest is Sean McCormick of EF Specialists. Sean stresses the importance of understanding executive function skills. He talks about what it is, some common misconceptions, and useful tools for dealing with the challenges people with executive function issues often face. Plus, Sean underscores how proper support can enhance the quality of life on many levels for those who struggle in this area. 

Executive Function Skills

Executive function skills - Executive function challenges
Photo: Ben Rosett, via Unsplash

What are executive function skills? Sean explains that executive function is the processes that people use to engage in goal oriented behavior. If you have a goal like you want to earn an A in a class, first you have to use a lot of different mental and physical tools to be able to reach that goal. That might include communicating effectively with your teacher. Then, being able to physically type up emails. You then might need to use a calendar or some type of time management system to plan out your timelines. It can also include being able to estimate how long it’s going to take to complete an assignment.

What Kinds of Executive Function Challenges Could You Face?

Executive function skills - Sean McCormick
Photo: Behnam Norouzi, via Unsplash

Undoubtedly, you’re likley needing to use these kinds of skills for simple day to day tasks. For example: if you’re going to the grocery store, you’re making a list, you’re checking for the weather to see if you need a raincoat or whatever it may be. You’re constantly using your executive functions to make decisions and meet your goals. \

Some people are incredible with executive function. They can plan 10 years in advance. They can plot out all their different goals and build incredible things. And some people really struggle with executive function. Maybe they just weren’t born with great working memory. So they have to externalize all their reminder systems.

How to Support Students with Executive Function Challenges

executive function skills - Executive function challenges
Photo: Priscilla DuPreez, via Unsplash

Of course, the best way to help someone with executive function challenged is to talk them through the process. It’s not just about showing what what people with good executive function skills do. It’s about demontrating to someone with exectuive function challenges. Then most importantly having them do it themselves. That way they experience what it’s like to actually do a process. This can include anything from setting reminders on a phone or putting in calendar entries. and even setting alarms. 

Where Can You Find Out More about Sean McCormick?

Executive function skills and challenges - Sean McCormick
Photo: Sean McCormick

You can find Sean McCormick at his blog at And you can link up with him directly at