The Executive Age of children with ADHD, find out more
Do you compare the abilities of your child, who has ADHD, with other children of the same age? Most parents tend to do this and they are totally unaware of the executive age of their child.
The Executive Age of a child is based on the development of his or her brain at a certain age. Every child has a different pace of physical, mental development and learning about the surroundings.
Once a child is born, he or she starts growing physically and mentally and begins to acquire life skills. The capability of the child to learn and carry out these life skills is the executive age of the child.
Children with disabilities or disorders have an executive age that is much different than other children. What this essentially means is that a child with a disorder like autism or ADHD will not display the same abilities as other children of the same age.
Ideally we compare the growth of children with their peers so a child is expected to start sitting, walking, talking at a particular age. Parents stress and worry when the child does not hit the milestone they are supposed to at a certain time in their lives.
The actual age of the child may differ from the executive age and affect various functions like impulse control, emotion regulation, processing speed, working memory, planning, organization and more.
For children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD, the difference between the biological age and executive age increases as the years go by. For instance, a child aged three years may display mental and physical abilities of a two-year-old and that would be considered as the executive age.
So, the executive age of a person with ADHD aged 21 years, can be 14 years. In simple words a person with ADHD at the age of 21 years will be able to learn and execute the skills of a 14-year-old.
It is important that parents understand this difference and accept the abilities of the child instead of doing a constant comparison with other children. Children with disorders need to be given more time to adapt to their surroundings. Information about the growth rate of children can ensure that parents set their expectations accordingly and are prepared for the slow progress.
Chinnappa Mathanda is a parent and also the founder of aSPECIALworld which is a Forum for special children.
I saw a study from the UK that showed that kids diagnosed with ADHD were invariably the youngest kids in the class. So this must be happening here too. We should probably look at putting a child who is 6 months or so younger in school only a year later…Chinnappa Mathanda
Parents need to understand that children with ADHD may not be fast skill learners and require more time do certain activities independently as compared to other kids. Awareness about the concept of executive age can definitely help parents understand their children in a better way.
The schooling and learning of children with ADHD should be done as per their executive age. It will not be fair to expect a child with ADHD to learn at the same pace and age as other kids. Putting extra pressure to perform can cause them to go into a shell and lower their self-esteem and confidence level.
Support and guidance from parents, educators and peers can help the children learn about their environment and be a part of it.
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