Executive Function Disorder vs. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder in children. The disorder is more common in boys than in girls. Symptoms often persist throughout the teenage years, and even into adulthood. Recent studies indicate that approximately 11 percent of school age children in the United States have a diagnosis of ADHD. The percentage is rising.

The symptoms of ADHD are divided into three major categories that include hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention. Not all of the symptoms have to be present to receive a diagnosis of ADHD. The major categories can be broken down into specific traits or characteristics. Children with ADHD exhibit a majority of these symptoms.


Sudden outbursts in social situations
• Blurting out answers in class before being called on to do so
• Inability to wait his turn
• Impatience leading to inappropriate behavior
• Constantly interrupts others
• Making inappropriate comments or gestures


• Fidgets, squirms and shifts position constantly
• Difficulty remaining in his seat in the classroom
• Talks loudly and excessively without regard to environment
• Always on the move and must be running , jumping climbing, wiggling or tapping
• Seems to be “wound up” and unable to stop


• Daydreams
• Unable to follow directions
Does not pay attention
• Makes careless mistakes
• Can’t seem to get organized
• Loses papers and personal belongings
• Has difficulty getting and staying organized
• Does not listen

These symptoms are some of the most prevalent indicators of ADHD. To receive a diagnosis, the child must display some or all of the symptoms over a specified period and must exhibit symptoms significantly more frequently than other children his age. Parents usually seek help when the symptoms of ADHD begin causing trouble for the child in school and social settings.

There is no confirmed cause of ADHD. Researchers have looked at factors such has heredity, environment, nutrition and the foods we eat, exposure to toxins, brain injury, premature birth and low birth weight as possible triggers or causes of the disorder.


Executive Function Disorder

Executive Function is defined as a set of skills that regulate and control an individual’s ability to accomplish tasks and get things done. Efficient executive function skills enable people to plan and organize information, and then to act on the information. An Executive Function Disorder (EFD) interferes with a child’s ability to organize his thoughts, remember important facts and events, and complete tasks. The following indicators may be signs of an Executive Function Disorder.

• Trouble planning projects and assignments
• Inability to organize thoughts or schoolwork
• Problems with memorization
• Estimating outcomes
• Unable to verbalize or write a story in the proper sequence
• Forgets to turn in homework
• Failure to set priorities

If you notice your child struggling with these issues, he may be a victim of Executive Function Disorder. Some children are diagnosed with ADHD when they actually have EFD. There are subtle differences between the two disorders.

Deficits in Executive Function are often interrelated to many of the symptoms of ADHD. Teachers can be an asset in diagnosing EFD. Ask your child’s teacher to observe your child’s behavior in the classroom and determine if he is displaying symptoms of the disorder.


The Major Differences Between ADHD and EFD

One of the major differences between ADHD and EFD is that ADHD is often treated with medication, and EFD is not. Children with EFD can often learn to manage their disorder with the proper tools and training.

C8 Sciences ACTIVATE™ is designed to help build working memory and teach kids to prioritize and plan tasks. Many times a child with EFD can flourish if he learns to create routines and use some of the special techniques that are taught in the ACTIVATE™ program,

Children with EFD are not as impulsive and spontaneous as kids with ADHD. The child with EFD has the ability to self-regulate and control his emotions, while the child with ADHD struggles to do so.

A proper diagnosis is necessary to support the child with EFD or ADHD. Tests and evaluations have been developed to determine how well a child can perform certain functions. Identifying strengths and weaknesses is the first step toward academic and social success for kids with EFD and ADHD.

Children build strengths and compensate for weaknesses with support and encouragement from parents and teachers. The implementation of the ACTIVATE™ cognitive brain training program in schools and at home can be an effective tool to help children learn to overcome the obstacles to learning caused by ADHD and EFD.