Neuropsychological Cluster

Executive function skills

These include inhibition, self- and task-monitoring, shifting and initiation, planning and organisation, working memory, and dual-tasking.

Use visual schedules to address initiation, shifting, self- and task-monitoring

  • Break down routines into individual steps. 
  • Take photos of the person engaged in each step or have them draw pictures of each step.
  • Then make a poster with each of the steps in order.
  • The poster can be used to guide behaviour – on busy school mornings, at bath time, when it’s time to clean up his or her room, and so on.
Daily visual schedule

Avoid working memory problems by making it easy to pay attention

  • Break down tasks into individual (small) steps and provide feedback and reward (social praise) at each step.
  • Provide regular and consistent feedback for all tasks.
  • Visually display rules and consequences prominently and close at hand.
  • Consistently reinforce adherence to rules. Ignore minor infractions.
  • Emphasise structure, routine, and supervision.
  • Give concrete instructions and avoid lengthy, complicated directions.

Reduce perseverative behaviour to promote inhibition

Perseverative behaviour, which is repetitive and inappropriate to the situation, is frustrating to others. We tend to question the child or even the adult who is doing the perseverating; we try to reason or bargain with him or her; sometimes we plead or beg, “Please stop!” None of that will work, of course. Perseverative behaviour is not wilful or intentional annoying of others; it is a neurological symptom, but it will respond to some behavioural strategies, described below with some simple examples provided. As with all behavioural strategies, these may take some trial-and-error, adjustments for the specific individual, and modification over time.

  • Distraction: calmly remove the object of perseveration (toy, video, etc.) and replace it with another, preferably one that invites social interaction (a brief game, a hand to take a short walk, go to the kitchen to fix a snack, etc.).
  • Ignoring: engage the individual in another topic or activity while ignoring the object or topic of perseveration.
  • Limit-setting or direction: For example, “We will watch this youtube video for two more minutes and then we will be done with youtube until tomorrow.”

Use the perseveration to teach or do something else.

Promote executive function development through everyday play

Playing games with infants and children is a wonderful and proven way to encourage neuropsychological brain skill development. Here you will find playful games and activities that you can play with your child from 6 months of age up to 17 years of age. They will target many aspects of neuropsychological skill development.

For adults

Similar strategies can be used, lists and checklists instead of visual schedules can be put in place. Implementing routines and external structures, such as the use of planners or calendars, smartphone reminders and alarms, and so on, can minimise the executive function demands of everyday situations.

Other themes under 'What to do'