Executive functions develop throughout a person’s entire childhood, and typically mature fully by the age of 25. As such, educators may notice a student struggling compared to their peers at all grade levels. Educators may begin to raise concerns when a student experiences more difficulty than other students their age, and when these difficulties cause “functional impairments” – in other words, when students have marked difficulties in their day-to-day functioning.
Psychologists may use specific screening tools such as the D–KEFS (Delis–Kaplan Executive Function System) or the NEPSY (A Developmental NEuroPSYchological Assessment) to assess executive functions. In some school boards, certain educators, can use some screeners, such as self-report questionnaires and checklists, to help them understand a student’s level of executive functioning. If you suspect that one of your students is struggling with executive functions, speak to a psychological professional in your school board to determine whether there are any screening options available to you within your specific role.
Many screeners that are available require specialized qualifications in order to complete them, so it may be more appropriate for you to provide the psychological professional with your input and allow them to assess the student rather than attempting to do so yourself. However, input from educators will help the psychologist gain a better understanding of how the various executive functions affect the student's academic functioning, and this perspective can form an integral part of the diagnosis.