The Difference Between IQ and Executive Functioning

Once you learn this lesson you will be light years ahead, I’m sure of it.

When I first began to learn about being a foster parent to someone with an alcohol related disability I was in constant conflict with myself.  I was standing in front of a young man who looks normal, talks normal and seems to have normal intelligence for his age – so, what’s the problem!?

Then I heard this: “I’m leaving this place as soon as my birthday hits in a couple of weeks…I’m going to get my own place.” I heard  this again, again and again.  I got really nervous. Here I am, a new foster parent and I am going to fail a few weeks into this.  Man.  I thought maybe I could talk him out of it, but that only seemed to make it worse.  It was at that moment that I could feel the hair on my head turning grey and all the while, he wasn’t going anywhere

There is a constant consensus out there that intelligence is all about your IQ.  WRONG! Little did I know that there is another IQ:  your functioning IQ or your executive functioning (EF). Your executive what?  Your functioning IQ or executive functioning goes a little something like this : Your IQ is what you know and your functioning IQ is what you do with that information.  If you have good EF then you have the ability be a good grown up.  Andrew Rosenzweig, MD’s definition of executive functioning is, “the ability to carry out familiar tasks such as getting dressed or balancing a checkbook.  Executive functioning includes the ability to plan projects, formulate goals and objectives, prioritize, apply self-discipline, and remember steps involved in complex tasks.”

Really?  Now, that’s was my AHA moment!

People with FASD often have normal IQ’s so they know a lot but in most cases they have horrible executive functioning. What does this mean?  This means they can’t do anything with the information that they have. They don’t have the ability to make a plan and execute it.

So, let’s look at my foster boys’ scenario again –
What would he have to do to move out:

1. Earn an income
2. Save Money
3. Find a place
4. Organize his transition, ie. Make appointments, look at units, call people back, etc.

Now, this is just a quick example and in fact there are a lot more steps to moving out and getting your own place, but because of his executive functioning deficit and without tons of help and guidance, even beginning step one is difficult.  So, this is what I learned and continue to learn.

Armed with my new knowledge, when my foster child said to me next time that he was going to move out, I told him I would support him in whatever he wanted to do.  He immediately went upstairs to look for apartments online.  It didn’t take long before he was cursing at the computer like a sailor because he didn’t understand. He understood what he had to do, but he was frustrated because he didn’t know how to do it.  So, it’s like a having a brand new car in the driveway , but without any keys or a license.

And then before he knew it, a cartoon that was playing on the TV grabbed his attention and he was gone.  It was only a matter of time before he told me again that he was moving out and this time I tried my new routine.  It worked. He hasn’t gone anywhere.

So the next time we get angry with our kids for not completing a task that seems simple to us, remember, it’s not so simple for them.  You wouldn’t get mad at someone in a wheelchair for not walking would you?

Once I became a foster parent of a young man with FASD, my life changed. I became an instant advocate, mentor and teacher. My passion to help others, to listen and be heard, became an everyday adventure. I have made it a priority to reach out and build relationships with caregivers, consumers, teachers and experts alike. I have learned how to apply real life strategies and techniques to obtain results. I will teach you, step by step – what is FASD, what it does and how YOU can conquer it. FASD Trainer, Coach, Consultant I have been able to move through the FASD ranks as relief staff and foster parent to coach and trainer. The strategies that I use and experts I rely on will produce successful results. But, what have I learned time and time again? 1. Stay Simple. 2. Stay 2 Steps Ahead…at minimum. The information about FASD that is available is vast and overwhelming, at best. I will show you how to be a detective and discover what works for YOU and the answers YOU are looking for. I will work beside you to ensure that you are prepared, confident and ready to apply your new found knowledge. The strategies I use and support I can offer will help anyone in the field of FASD – new, old, or those needing a light refresher. From Stand Up Comedy to FASD Success I began my speaking career through parts in school plays and public speaking contests, which eventually landed me a gig doing standup comedy in the GTA and as a member of Toast Masters. Lately though, I have been working on catching people’s attention through FASD consultations, staff training and 1 on 1 coaching. I can provide you with the right balance of humor and knowledge that is easy to listen to and easier to remember. My style is witty, endearing and fast paced but 100% honest. FASD..huh? Simply put, I enrolled in Advanced FASD 101 when I began foster parenting with my partner in 2007. I quickly realized my passion for FASD and my desire grew to understand the complexities of the disability. I have expanded my knowledge of FASD through reaching out to some of the nations top FASD educators and experts, attending numerous workshops and conferences and recently completed an FASD Certificate Program through the Toronto Children’s Aid Society and Donna Debolt. However, I do have a life outside of FASD educating, coaching and training. I grew up in Northern Ontario, where I practiced my second greatest passion: hockey. I also enjoy telling folks about my stint on reality tv (Til Debt Do Us Part) and how I got TV bleeped three times. Check it out For more about my other pursuits, check out the following links: Twitter: JeffjNoble Facebook:

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