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Digital Recording

Advanced Course: Executive Function in Kids & Teens Who Are Smart but Scattered

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Margaret Dawson, EdD, NCSP
12 Hours 45 Minutes
Audio and Video
Dec 11, 2019
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Digital Recording
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Make good choices. Study. Take turns. Start homework. Sit still. Focus. Finish homework. Turn in homework.

Executive function (EF) is at the core of everything kids and teens are asked to do each day at home and school. And yet when these expectations aren’t met, professionals often turn to consequences, discipline, and “tough love” to encourage change. And when that doesn’t work, the child is labelled as “lazy” or “unmotivated” rather than someone who lacks certain skills.

Watch Peg Dawson, Ed.D., NCSP, leading expert in executive function, for this advanced training where you’ll not only gain a comprehensive understanding of executive dysfunction and its impact on young lives, you’ll also have a complete clinical toolbox full of interventions to:

  • Assess for and diagnose executive function difficulties from childhood to early adulthood
  • Change any environment to accommodate low or weak executive skills
  • Boost skills in organization, planning, decision making and emotional regulation
  • Provide effective psychoeducation and training to parents and families
  • And more!

And while many intervention plans are too complicated and time-intensive for long term success, Peg offers up simple, straightforward, and practical interventions that can be used every day to improve any child or teen’s level of functioning.

This recorded training is a must-watch for any professional working with kids and adolescents – buy today!



This online program is worth 12.75 hours CPD.



Margaret Dawson, EdD, NCSP's Profile

Margaret Dawson, EdD, NCSP Related seminars and products

Peg Dawson, EdD, NCSP, is a school psychologist and for over 20 years has worked at the Center for Learning and Attention Disorders in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where she specializes in the assessment of children and adults with learning and attention disorders. She is co-author of the bestselling books on executive dysfunction, Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents: 2nd Edition (Guilford, 2010), Smart but Scattered (Guilford, 2009) and Smart but Scattered Teens (Guilford, 2013).

Peg is a past editor of Communiqué, the newsletter of the National Association of School Psychologists, and has published numerous articles and book chapters on a variety of topics, including retention, ability grouping, reading disorders, attention disorders, the sleep problems of adolescents, the use of interviews in the assessment process, and homework.

Peg has many years of organizational experience at the state, national and international levels and served in many capacities, including president of the New Hampshire Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) and the International School Psychology Association.She has also participated in many of NASP’s leadership initiatives, including the Futures Conference and the development of both the second and third Blueprint for the Training and Practice of School Psychology. She is the 2006 recipient of NASP’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Peg received her doctorate in school/child clinical psychology from the University of Virginia.


Speaker Disclosures:

Financial: Margaret (Peg) Dawson is an author for Guilford Press and receives royalties. She is an author for Amacon publishers and receives royalties. She receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc.

Non-financial: Margaret (Peg) Dawson has no relevant non-financial relationships.


  1. Describe the neurological processes involved in executive skill development both in typically developing children and those with executive dysfunction (such as ADHD).
  2. Identify developmentally appropriate expectations for executive skill development in children from preschool to early adulthood.
  3. Communicate the role of executive skills in school performance and daily living for children and adolescents.
  4. Determine “best practices” for assessing executive skills, including both formal and informal measures.
  5. Implement strategies for modifying the environment to be more supportive for children with weak executive skills.
  6. Create daily routines both at home and at school that support the development of executive skills.
  7. Utilize a 4-step process to task-analyze classroom lessons to identify the specific executive skills that are involved.
  8. Generate strategies for overcoming common obstacles to effective deployment of executive skills.
  9. Educate students about executive skills so they can identify their own executive skill strengths and weaknesses and develop supportive strategies where needed.
  10. Design child/student-centered interventions that target specific executive skills to resolve specific problem situations at home and/or school.
  11. Utilize behavioural incentives and other motivational strategies to encourage children and teens to engage in the level of practice necessary to develop effective executive skills.
  12. Provide education to parents of teenagers on the dynamics of the parent-child relationship during adolescence, the impact this has on executive skill development, and how to design age-appropriate interventions. 


Get to Know Executive Function (EF)

  • The 11 executive skills
  • Two dimensions of EF skills: Thinking and doing
  • Are EF skills innate? Learned?
  • Exercise: Match the descriptor to the EF skill

The Neurobiology of EF

  • Normal v. atypical brain development
  • Chronological v. age of functioning, ex - ADHD
  • How do executive skills develop in the brain?
  • Negative influences on EF development
  • Can executive skills be recovered?

Assessment: What Does Weak EF Look Like?

  • Parent/teacher interviews: What to ask/ look for and why
  • Behaviour rating scales (BRIEF-2, ADHD Rating Scales-V, and more!)
  • Limitations of formal evaluation
  • Observation/informal assessment
  • When is it an educational disability?
  • Co-morbidity with mental health disorders

Linking Assessment to Intervention: 3 Key Skills to Accommodate Executive Skill Weaknesses 

  • Environmental Modifications
    • Any changes made external to the child - physical or social
    • Modify the nature of the task(s)
    • Change the ways adults interact with the child
    • Exercise: Brainstorm modifications for each EF skill
  • Teach Deficient Skills
    • Adults (temporarily) become the child’s frontal lobe
    • 3 steps to embedding executive skills into:
      • Content area lessons
      • Whole-class routines
      • Small group curricula
    • Adaptations for K-6, middle school, and high school
    • Step-by-step examples: Cleaning room, starting the day, homework plans, classroom organization
    • Exercise: Design an EF-conducive classroom or home routine
  • Motivate the Child to Use the Skill
    • A new look at incentives and reinforcement
    • The benefits of using incentives
    • Simple “go-to” incentives
    • Longer term, more elaborate incentives
    • Exercise: Brainstorm and discussion on incentives

STRATEGIES, STRATEGIES, STRATEGIES: Must-Have Interventions for Home, School & Beyond

  • The 7 keys to effective intervention design
  • The “perfect” intervention has these 2 factors
  • Must-have strategies for getting kids on board
  • Covey’s in my control/out of my control

Student-Centered Interventions: Steps and Guidelines

  • Exercise: Step-by-step development of a student-centered intervention
    • Case: Sarah – seatwork struggles, poor follow through
    • Case: Max – task refusal, wanders, not following directions
    • Case: High school student – intellectual disabilities

Practical, Innovative Strategies Designed to Target:

  • Beginning & end of day routines
  • All things homework – collection, completion, turning in!
  • Paying attention
  • Desk cleaning
  • Writing papers
  • Longer-term projects
  • Organization
  • Managing open-ended tasks
  • Taking notes
  • Temper control
  • Impulsivity
  • Transitions
  • Perspective taking
  • Problem solving
  • And more!

Coaching: 1:1 Interventions for Executive Skill Development

  • Key components of coaching
  • Stages and goal setting
  • Class-wide peer coaching
  • Evidence behind coaching’s effectiveness

Clinical Considerations

  • ABA/RTI in schools
  • Working with parents and families
  • Multicultural factors
  • Limitations of the research and potential risks

Target Audience

  • Counselors
  • Social Workers
  • Psychologists
  • Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Educators
  • School Psychologists
  • School Counselors
  • School Social Workers
  • Educational Paraprofessionals
  • School Administrators
  • Speech-Language Pathologists
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Occupational Therapy Assistants
  • Nurses
  • Case Managers
  • Other Helping Professionals Who Work with Children


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