Executive functioning: Tips for Autistic teens

The videos and tip sheet provide valuable insight into the lived experience and feelings of young Autistic people, as well as practical strategies young people can use to build their executive functioning skills. These resources would be useful for Autistic students, teachers, and parents.  

Funded by the Department of Education and Training Victoria, these resources were created with input from Autistic people, an occupational therapist and education professionals.

Executive functioning: Tips for Autistic teens

Executive functioning skills are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions and juggle multiple tasks successfully. They are essential for learning, behaviour, and development.

They include:

  • Flexible thinking
  • Working memory
  • Self-monitoring
  • Planning and prioritising
  • Task initiation
  • Organisation
  • Impulse control
  • Emotional control

These executive functions act as the brain’s self-management system, and they work together to help organise and act on information. Autistic people often have difficulty with executive functioning skills, and these can cause increasing challenges in school impacting on them academically, socially and emotionally.

In secondary school, these executive functioning skills are essential for students to manage their increased responsibilities such as their timetable, which books to bring to each class, meeting assignment deadlines, homework, social and emotional demands of school life. Teachers play an important role in helping students understand these components of self-management and to practice developing their executive functioning skills.

Read the information sheet for more tips and advice.

Executive functioning videos

Video 1: Student

This video focuses on time management and organisation skills for secondary school students at both school and home. Featuring an Autistic secondary school student in their home preparing what they need for school and the strategies they use to help them.

Video 2: Teacher

This video focuses on working memory, time management and organisational skills. Featuring a secondary school teacher talking to camera about how these skills impact students in the classroom and how they can support development of these skills, including the teacher showcasing resources.

Video 3: Education Specialist (who is also Autistic) 

This video features an education specialist discussing the importance of executive functioning skills and how they impact Autistic children and their school life and learning. They share strategies for developing working memory, time and management and organisational skills.

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