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Executive Function Disorder in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 6, 2024.

What is executive function disorder (EFD)?

Executive function refers to your child's ability to plan goals and complete tasks on time. EFD is often thought to be attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but EFD is a separate disorder. The attention problems that are part of EFD involve processing and working memory disorders. Processing is the ability to understand and use information. Working memory is the ability to remember information long enough to work with it. For example, your child needs working memory to remember 2 numbers he or she has to add together.

What are the signs and symptoms of EFD?

How is EFD diagnosed?

Your child may be given tests to check his or her memory, control, and ability to complete tasks. For example, he or she may be shown a card with the word green printed in red ink. He or she will be asked to name the color instead of reading the word. This will show his or her ability to ignore an impulse to say the word instead of the color. He or she may also be asked to complete a long series of steps. This will test his or her ability to stay interested long enough to finish and control his or her emotions if he or she becomes frustrated. He or she may be asked to repeat a series of numbers or words to test his or her working memory.

How is EFD managed?

What can I do to help support my child?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.