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July 16 , 2009

Solving Executive Function Challenges

Simple Ways to Get Kids with Autism Unstuck and on Target


How can you help kids with autism be flexible, get organized, and work toward goals—not just in school but in everyday life? It's all about executive function, and this quick problem-solving guide helps you explicitly teach these critical skills to high-functioning children with autism (Grades K-8). Used on its own or in tandem with the popular Unstuck and On Target! classroom curriculum, this practical guide shows how to embed executive function instruction in dozens of everyday scenarios, from morning routines to getting homework done. Designed for therapists, teachers, and parents, these highly effective techniques give children the skills they need to navigate each day, reach their goals, and succeed inside and outside the classroom.


  • Understand executive function—why it's important and why it's challenging for children with autism
  • Teach three skills critical to success: flexibility, goal setting, and organization
  • Use consistent scripts and key words to help children process your message
  • Model desired behaviors —and fade your guidance as children generalize skills
  • Provide simple, effective visual cues that keep kids unstuck and on target
  • Keep it fun and positive, with tips on creative, playful ways to teach executive function skills

PRACTICAL MATERIALS: Dozens of specific, easy-to-do examples; "Goal, Plan, Do, Check" scripts and worksheets that break down tasks into small, achievable chunks; key words and phrases that help kids stay on target; reproducible visual aids; sample IEP goals.

Help children with autism

  • Compromise with family and friends
  • Turn "big deals" into "little deals"
  • Move on to Plan B when Plan A doesn't work
  • Make plans and carry them out
  • Solve problems independently
  • Be a good friend
  • Handle disappointments and unexpected events
  • Avoid "whims" that get them off track

Quick-reference magnet included! As a bonus, you'll also get a 4 x 6 magnet printed with key words and sample scripts from Unstuck and On Target! It's a handy quick reference for the "Goal-Plan-Do-Check" process that helps students set and meet goals.

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