The Autism Helper’s Executive Functions Masterclass Put Into Practice

The executive functions course was an eye opener for myself and how I teach. Then when I got into researching Dr. Robert Schramm and Dr. Greg Hanley, I reviewed the way I taught in the past and what I want to change for the future. Teaching these skills with compassion and following trauma informed procedures is most important. In this post, I will share what I have learned about each executive function and how to teach these skills while being open minded, compassionately gaining instructional control, and honoring when a learner says they need a break or communicating that they don’t want to do something right now.

In this post, I will give an overview of what I am learning and how I plan to mesh executive functioning skills with other domains all while following guidelines and ideas from Dr. Greg Hanley and Dr. Robert Schramm.

Executive functioning skills build on each other, but it is possible for a learner to have splinter skills with executive functions just as any other skill. There are 11 executive functions, and we know that executive functions are important. As professionals, these may be skills that our learners need to be taught. We can teach these skills by following compassionate teaching, and using the foundations of Dr. Greg Hanley and Robert Schramm. We can teach executive functioning skills while also teaching how to have opinions, speak up and advocate, and gain instructional control with caring techniques. More in-depth lessons and courses on what they have developed can be found here and here

The executive functioning masterclass teaches us all about the executive function skills needed. There is also explanations and reasonings why and how to write IEP goals and programs within treatment plans that focus on each of these skills. The masterclass reviews establishing a behavioral goal based on the skill deficits of a learner, developing a procedure for teaching the skill, planning environmental supports, planning for reinforcement. Within each module, Sasha has shared helpful resources and ideas for games to help teach these skills!

The Executive Functions


  • Response inhibition: This is the skill of thinking before one acts.
  • Working memory: This is the ability to retain and draw upon information while completing a task.
  • Emotional control: Managing one’s emotions to complete tasks and direct behaviors is a social/emotional executive functioning skill.
  • Sustained attention: This is the ability to continue to pay attention to a task or event despite any distractions in oneself or in the environment or fatigue. A teacher or clinician won’t be able to decrease or get rid of all of the possible distractions, but this module give realistic ideas!
  • Task initiation: This is the ability to begin tasks efficiently and decrease the latency of a response.
  • Planning: This is the ability to plan to completing a goal or a task and prioritizing the steps. 
  • Organization: This is the ability to create and maintain systems to keep track of information and materials.
  • Time management: This is the skill of being able to estimate how much time one has and how to allocate that time.  
  • Persistence: This is when someone is following through on the completion of a goal.
  • Flexibility: This is the ability to review a plan and adapt to changing conditions.
  • Metacognition: This includes self-monitoring and self-evaluation skills.

I would love to talk more about (eating doughnuts article). Although it was written in 1990, the information provided are still accurate and appropriate to our practice today. Whether you are a teacher, para, related service team member, or work as a professional in an ABA clinic or therapeutic setting, these are important topics!


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