Executive Functioning – my child’s Control Room

A control room is a room serving as a central space where a large facility can be monitored and controlled. The control room’s role is to make decisions, guide actions, provide feedback and lead others to positive results. The effective running of a facility depends on the quality service of the control room. Our executive function is in essence our control room.  Executive function is the term we use to describe a variety of mental processes essential for performance. As the name implies, executive function is high-level abilities that influence more basic abilities like attention, memory and motor skills. These basic abilities are in turn essential to ensure optimal performance in learning environments. Goldstein and Naglieri identified the following five components contributing to performance:

  • Ability: The skills we use to acquire and manipulate knowledge to solve problems, also referred to as intelligence.
  • Knowledge: Everything we learn in life, also referred to as achievement.
  • Self-regulation: The capacity to slow down long enough to manipulate knowledge and ability.
  • Motivation: The resilient mind-set necessary to drive self-regulation.
  • Executive Function: The efficiency with which we go about solving problems, making decisions, performing and relating to others.

Intelligence tests, a one-sided evaluation

Often a child’s performance is predicted or explained through the use of intelligence measures and many of the other components are overlooked. The CEFI™ — Goldstein & Naglieri Comprehensive Executive Function Inventory™ is however a rating scale designed to measure behaviours that are associated with Executive Function (EF). The rating scale is intended for children and youth aged 5 through 18 years and can be completed by a parent, teacher, or the child. The CEFI™ is composed of items related to attention, emotion regulation, flexibility, inhibitory control, initiation, organization, planning, self-monitoring, and working memory.

An Educational Psychologist's views on the CEFI

Megan Osler is an Educational Psychologist at JvR. Below are her thoughts on using the CEFI™: “The CEFI allows information from the parents, the child being assessed and the teacher to be triangulated.  I often find, when assessing a child, that parents and teachers have differing opinions.  With the CEFI you can compare the results of all 3 stakeholders which I feel provides a more thorough, holistic view of the child.  Children 12 years and older who fill in the self-rating form provides much insight as to how they view their difficulties, which gives the assessor a lot of information.  I found that this allows the assessor to get a true feeling as to how the child is personally experiencing any difficulties - It allows for a more subjective and honest look at the difficulties the child is experiencing and how it manifests for them.  What I furthermore have found to be extremely useful with the CEFI assessment is the intervention strategies that are provided in the reports.  So often assessments just provide results and no ideas or strategies for how to intervene, which is ultimately what parents and teachers need.  I find that so many children are being diagnosed with ADHD and labelled for life.  However, the CEFI focuses on different aspects of executive functioning, that may be confused with ADHD as often Executive Function (EF) difficulties overlap with ADHD symptoms even though the EF difficulties are not unique to ADHD.  Thus the CEFI assessment provides an excellent way of identifying specific difficulties that a child may have with executive functioning and not necessarily ADHD.  It pinpoints a lot more specific areas of executive functioning that require intervention as opposed to a general diagnosis of ADHD. It’s a thorough assessment that provides useful diagnostic information and intervention strategies.” If you are interested in more information regarding the CEFI™, please feel free to contact us at: 011 781 3705, or email us at info@jvrafrica.co.za