It’s Tatyana of Smart Speech Therapy LLC bringing you another freebie today. Do you have some students on your caseload, who due to executive function deficits have difficulty asking for help?
You know the ones I am talking about! They’ll sit there quietly, making nice eye contact but when it comes to answering questions about what they've just learned, they have no idea about what's going on! They might try to answer the questions and stumble half way through before giving up. They might provide responses completely unrelated to the presented question. But most of the time, much to your frustration, they will simply shrug their shoulders and reply “I don’t know”.
So why do they do that? The answer is that they have impaired executive function skills as a result of which they have difficulty initiating (e.g., asking questions, getting help, beginning to work on tasks, etc.) and obtaining clarification when he needs to.
Executive function (EF) is a set of mental processes regulated by the frontal lobe of the brain that help us function optimally in life. Having intact executive functions means that you can manage, plan, organize, strategize, attend to, and remember things appropriately. However, if the child’s EF is underdeveloped or impaired (e.g., damaged) as a result of a injury (TBI) or disorder (ADHD, FASD, etc) then s/he will present with significant difficulties in various areas of functioning, which will make it very difficult for him/her to appropriately meet school requirements or engage in successful social interactions with others in and out of school setting.
While it is very important that children with EF impairments receive remediation in all affected areas (e.g., memory, planning, organization, etc), if needed, one of the first affected areas I typically like to address is initiation, specifically improving the child’s ability to ask for help when needed.
That is why I created “Strategies of Asking For Help” chart for my verbal, mildly cognitively impaired (IQ 70+) and average cognition clients. The goal is to keep this chart in the child’s line of vision during the sessions, and remind him/her to chose a relevant strategy from the chart to alert the therapist that the child requires help (e.g., If confused say: I don’t know where to find the answer).
Of course, prior to using the chart, it is very important to pre-teach the child about the strategies written on the chart. it is very important to explain when s/he should use each strategy (during what type of tasks/questions/situations) as well as why it is so important to ask for help. Depending on the severity of the child’s impairment, you may need to spend several therapy sessions pre-teaching these concepts in order to optimize the child’s success with the chart’s usage.
Furthermore, the usage of the ‘Strategies Chart” should not just be limited to language therapy sessions. After all what would be the point if the child only learns to ask for help during therapy sessions but is unable to do so during classroom lectures/assignments or when doing homework at home. Teachers and parents alike can use the chart (e.g., affix it to the child’s desk in the class or at home) as a visual reminder of why asking for help is so important as well as to improve the child’s ability to request assistance in all settings. Get your FREE copy in my online store HERE.