Notebooks

Our Approach

Our process for enhancing executive function skills is a five step process that includes an intake, assessment and weekly skill building meeting. Read below to learn about each step in more detail.

What is the EF Specialists process? 

Step 1: Inquiry Meeting

Our first step is to meet with the key stakeholders — ideally the student, parents and any other key player in the family dynamic. The reason for this is that executive function skills do not develop in a bubble. They require the support and guidance of a community.

During this meeting, you will be asked the following questions:

If we were to work together, what would have happened in 3–6 months for you to feel that working with us was a great investment?

How would you feel if the goals above were accomplished?

What is getting in the way of those goals being reached?

What other resources do you have available to help you reach the goals above (coaches, tutors, mental health supports, etc)?

These questions are essential to help you generate solutions to the problems you are facing. It is our job to hold you accountable for the solutions that you know will bring about change and resolution.

 

Step 2: Assessment Meeting

The next step is for our assessment professional to meet with the client of focus and identify their existing skill set. Executive function skills stretch across a range of competencies and so we will like to look at key areas that permit for success in school, at home and in the workplace. These areas include:

Prioritization

  • Has a system for prioritizing emails

  • Communication

  • Knows how to ask for extended time or an extension on projects and homework

  • Knows appropriate email communication format

  • Knows to reply within two days to all formal emails

  • Knows to reply within 24 hours to all text messages

  • Can send a picture through the phone

Planning

  • Can schedule an item in Google Calendar with Zoom link

  • Has a system to track To Do’s

  • Uses a calendar to track upcoming important dates and events

Task-Initiation

  • Can set alarms on phone to remind them to do tasks

  • Knows how to set external reminders

Progress Monitoring

  • Knows how to create an error log and monitor progress toward a goal

Self Regulation

  • Can identify things that bring them joy

  • Knows when feeling overwhelmed and ways to refresh

This is not an all encompassing list, however, assessing these skills helps us tune our support process to ensure the client has the best possible chance of meeting the goals they have articulated.

 

Step 3: Weekly Executive Function Coaching

Following the intake and assessment process, we begin the deep work of weekly coaching to help our clients develop the necessary skills to strengthen their executive functions. This support generally takes the form of identifying what priorities feel most challenging based on our solution-focused questioning process, and teaching prerequisite skills to gain new skills at the point of performance, as articulated by Dr. Russell Barkley.

Step 4: The Family Team Meeting

A Family-Team Meeting is when all the key stakeholders and supports meet and go through a process of identifying what is the shared goal and how everyone can work together to support the client in reaching that goal.

The key to a successful FTM is that it is run by a skilled facilitator who ensures who everyone has the opportunity to be heard. At Executive Function Specialists, we use a simple and effective agenda that helps the process proceed toward the goals of service. That agenda includes the following discussion points:

What is going well? (Everyone shares out)

What is the goal we are working toward?

Who does what and by when?

When will the next meeting be held to review progress (typically 4-6 weeks)

Learn more about the Family Team Meeting by reading this article by our founder, Sean McCormick. 

Step 5: Phasing Out of Services 

The phase out of services can come in as short of six months or as long as the family feels is needed to support the client. We approach the phase out incrementally with the goal of helping clients take ownership of their burgeoning executive function skills. A typically phase out may look like the following:

 

The specialist and client meet every two weeks to review all classes, check on any big projects coming up and ensure the client is advocating for any support they need. If nothing is missing or of concern at that meeting, the next meeting would be in 4 weeks. 

 

After 4 weeks, if nothing is missing or of concern, the gap between meetings is shifted to 6 weeks, and this pattern continues until the end of the semester, at which point we hold a Family Team Meeting to review progress that has been made and evaluate what is needed for the following semester. 

 

This phase out approach provides the client with continued support while helping them take complete ownership of his organization system.