Executive Function without ADHD, possible?

The strength of an individual’s Executive Functions impact his/her ability to analyze, organize, decide, and execute things in a timely fashion. It may result in lost assignments, missed deadlines, and projects that overwhelm.

Learn how to recognize the signs of executive dysfunction, and how to differentiate them from ADHD and/or learning disabilities.


A child or an adult with ADHD might be hyperactive, inattentive, and/or impulsive. We find it easier to understand or identify hyperactivity and impulsivity. The understanding of inattention, though, has shifted from primarily “the inability to stay on task” to a larger concept called executive function disorder (EFD), which involves a pattern of difficulties in executing daily tasks. This is sometimes called executive dysfunction. While one of the hallmarks of ADHD is difficulty with the executive functions, we may see executive function challenges in individuals who do not have a diagnosis of attention deficit.

In many ways, ADHD and Executive Functioning issues go hand in hand. Many of the symptoms of ADHD are actually problems with executive function. There’s one big difference between the two, however.


ADHD is an official diagnosis. It is a brain-based condition that makes it hard for kids to concentrate, use working memory, organize and manage themselves. They may also be impulsive or hyperactive. Executive Functioning is not an official diagnosis. It’s a term that refers to weaknesses in the brain’s self-management system and presents with weaknesses in key mental skills that are responsible for attention, memory, organization and time management, and flexible thinking. Individuals who struggle with executive function do not always have ADHD. Many people with learning differences struggle with one or more of these key skills.

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