This month, at the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) conference in La Jolla, California, Academic Director Martin Naffziger and Executive Director Heather Tracy delivered a presentation on how to design a program that intentionally develops Executive Functioning skills.
Because Executive Functioning is such an essential and elemental set of processes which help determine success in so many areas, NSA works holistically with students who struggle so that these skills are intentionally strengthened and consistently applied in academic work, community life, therapeutic interventions, and the development of key life skills. This daunting task cannot be accomplished by a lone therapist, a favorite teacher, or a passionate mentor alone, as this approach would isolate skill development to only one type of task – homework completion, flexibility in changing plans, or incorporating feedback.
Martin and Heather’s presentation outlined how a program can develop an integrated approach to strengthening Executive Functioning skills. This approach begins with an intentional, systemic structuring of how students – and the professionals with whom they work – are guided in problem-analysis, goal-setting and management of steps, daily time management, self-monitoring, and more – so that the very programmatic steps students engage in build Executive Functioning skills by applying them throughout the day, every day.
The presentation provided concrete techniques and structures – using our one-of-a-kind program as examples – which allow teachers, therapists, experiential educators to collaborate in developing an integrated, whole-program approach to building Executive Functioning skills.
When we consider that students will need to, after transition, apply these skills in every facet of their adult lives, no approach but an integrated one can succeed.
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