15 Aug Planning the future
At a conference I attended last summer, I learned that as we grow, our ability to plan our time in the future grows. In middle school, students can make plans for events only 1-2 days in the future. If they have struggles with executive function, they may only be able to make plans for the next 12-24 hours. As you can imagine, this has a big impact on their ability to plan and complete long term projects!
But I’ll be honest, I didn’t really get it, since I’ve heard lots and lots of kids talk about things that are happening in the future. If my family is going on a trip in a couple weeks, my own kids are very capable of asking about what we’re going to do or who we’re going to see. Even my 4th grader can do this.
And then one day, I was in the midst of my usual panic about who was going to watch my youngest while I went to an event late that afternoon. I’d known about the event for the last TWO WEEKS. Yet here I was, once again, wondering what I was going to do. It suddenly hit me: when did I start thinking about the logistics of my absence from the house? The morning of the event – about 7 hours before it happened. I’m exactly like many of the students I work with! In college, I used to think I liked to work “under pressure”, but now I realize I just didn’t comprehend all the working parts of an assignment until it was right smack dab in front of my face.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten better about understanding some of those moving parts. I know that I need to start paperwork before it FEELS like I need to start paperwork. I know that I need to start dinner before it FEELS like I need to start dinner. I know that I need to get ready to leave the house before it FEELS like I need to get ready to leave the house. I don’t manage it all the time, but it’s better than it used to be. And now that I have this new recognition of my time blindness, I can start to build strategies to get even better at managing this area of my life.
This is my approach for working with clients with executive function disorder: first, we name and understand what’s getting in the way of our potential, then we create strategies, we evaluate those strategies, and we rework as needed. It’s not always an easy process, but progress is possible!
Now, I need to go find someone to watch my youngest in a couple weeks.