Executive Functioning: Strategies to Support Individuals with Autism and Related Challenges Pt. 4 By Dr. Gina Cosgrove

Executive Functioning: Strategies to Support Individuals with Autism and Related Challenges Pt. 4 By Dr. Gina Cosgrove

Executive Functioning: Strategies to Support Individuals with Autism and Related Challenges Pt. 4 By Dr. Gina Cosgrove

On October 19, Dr. Gina Cosgrove presented “Executive Functioning: Strategies to Support Individuals with Autism and Related Challenges” at Transitions’ “Strategies to Build Independence for Students with Autism, ADHD and Other Learning Differences” conference. Her presentation covered the basics of how to evaluate a student’s executive functioning needs and reviewed research-based strategies to help with planning interventions and implementing them in different settings. We would like to share what we learned from Dr. Cosgrove in this series of posts.

Teaching the Skills: Self-Evaluation Strategies
Individuals on the autism spectrum typically need a lot of work when it comes to judging themselves and the tasks they are assigned.

  • Estimating how long a task will take is very difficult for students on the autism spectrum. Their guesses are usually way off. This is where the strategy of chunking, or breaking tasks down into small steps, is effective, as smaller pieces are easier to wrap one’s brain around than the whole picture.
  • Students can learn to judge their work by giving it a rating based on how hard they think it is using a thumbs up/thumbs down or a hard/easy system. This can help them break down the work’s manageability, which could lower the student’s anxiety about it.
  • A student rating their own level of focus or how hard they worked on a task can help them evaluate whether they need reminders or other supports, increasing their ability to self-monitor. Making connections works as well – asking “what does this remind me of?” can help them approach the problem in a different way, which is especially useful if the student has already completed something similar and know they can do it.
  • Teach students to utilize positive self-talk statements and write encouraging notes to themselves for when they get frustrated while tackling an assignment.
  • Self-evaluation also includes self-checking – stopping and listening to what you mind or body is telling you.
  • Creating self-evaluation rubrics is a great way to get a student to start examining their own effort. The key is to make them fun and simple with colors, characters and symbols so they are easy to understand and don’t look intimidating. Create them for desired behavioral expectations such as attending class, completing work and helping others. Make sure to change them as the individual ages.

We hope these tips and strategies are helpful to you. Good luck and check this blog again next week for the next installment in this series.