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  • Sam B.

Asking for Help

Following on our recent post on self-advocacy, this week's topic expands on why it's hard for students to ask for help in the context of Executive Functioning skills.

1) Poor time management. If your ability to think into the future is low, then there's never any reason to get help - there's simply no urgency.

2) Poor working memory. Working memory allows you to hold, juggle and reprioritize tasks in your mind. If your working memory is low, then it's very hard to simulate the future and plan for it.

3) Poor self-regulation. Seeking help usually means that the help you receive will in some way be delayed. Rewards that are delayed are of less importance for those with poor Executive Functioning. Distractions (like video games or social media) provide stimulation and rewards immediately so it's very easy to get side-tracked.

4) Developmental delay. Remember that kids with Executive Functioning deficits (and those specifically with ADHD) may be 25% or more delayed in the development of their Executive Skills. So, your 8th grader may only have the Executive Skills of a 4th or 5th grader and they need to be scaffolded appropriately.

5) Low maturity. Maturity involves self-awareness, self-monitoring and an understanding of one's own role in the execution of work. Those with lower maturity levels may not even see their role as including being the one to seek external help. (This can go into adulthood.)

6) Lack of peer influence. Students often learn from modeling behavior of their family and friends. If they simply don't see the people around them asking for help, then they may not gain the ability to ask for help either.

7) Challenging family dynamics. Many students hitting about 5th grade and above will simply avoid listening to their parents and it may be more productive to seek external help from friends, counselors or tutors to continue to build these important skills.

These skills will improve over time as the brain (specifically the prefrontal cortex) develops and matures. However, it can take some people into their 30's to build these skills. Practice and mentorship can help reinforce these skills on a daily basis.

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