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Akron Children's program helps students with school, life skills

05-10-2016 (Akron, Ohio )

Akron Children’s Hospital has created a new program to help school-age children with executive functioning deficits like organization, time management, and setting and achieving goals.

The Executive Functioning Skills Building Program is a short term, skilled-based treatment delivered through individual and family therapy. The treatment engages both the child and the family to provide practical skills to the child and ways for the family to support the development of executive functions.

“Executive functions are neurologically-based skills involving mental controls and self-regulation,” said Sarah Groves, program coordinator and a licensed professional clinical counselor. “These skills are responsible for guiding and directing cognitive, emotional and behavioral functions.”

Children who would benefit from this program include those who:

  • Complete their homework but forget to turn it in on a regular basis.
  • Have trouble completing multi-step directions.
  • Are unable to set and complete goals.
  • Have trouble working within time constraints which are not unreasonable.
  • Always seem to be late, rushing, and missing the school bus and appointments.
  • Are viewed as “smart, but scattered” with such poor organizational skills that grades and home life are impacted.

“It’s normal for all children to do these things occasionally,” said Groves, “but, if you, as a parent, are at wit’s end over this behavior, this may be the sign that your child needs strategies to help him or her be more successful at school and in all aspects of life.”

The program is targeted to children from 10 to 16 years old with or without previous diagnoses. Children referred to the program may be diagnosed with ADHD, but this is not a prerequisite. Additionally, children with late effects from cancer treatment, epilepsy, or traumatic brain injuries may benefit from this program.

“The end of the school year is actually a great time to look objectively at your child’s academic program, and summer is often the best time to intervene and work on these skills,” said Groves.

Prior to beginning the program, parents will complete rating scales measuring their child’s executive functioning skills and how deficits may be affecting family life. Children 11 years or older will also complete rating scales to provide their perspectives on how they are struggling. The rating scales are intended to match the child with the appropriate modules, which cover such areas as inhibition, emotional regulation, working memory, planning/organization, initiation, shift, self-monitoring and task management.

To learn more or to schedule an assessment, call 330-543-5081.