Learning and Sharing

Effective Strategies and Practical Ideas for Getting Things Done


What should you do if you often arrive at tennis lessons without your tennis bag?  What if you need constant reminders to go upstairs and put on your socks before putting on your shoes?  You put on your “future glasses”, start with the end in mind and then go back and figure out how to get there!

I have quite a few clients who need strategies to frame how they function in the world.  Sarah Ward, M.S., CCC-SLP http://( has given us a fantastic strategy from her executive function-directed therapy.

How do we get started?  First, we decide on an activity that is considered a constant issue.  In this case, it’s getting to tennis lessons with everything needed.  My first question is, “What will you look like when you are ready to go?” and with that “picture” in mind, we decide on a plan for what we need to get get ready.  Next, we decide on the steps to take.



This client told me that just having a list of words to guide him through the process was not helpful. His self-awareness prompted him to ask for pictures.


What about prompting and cues?  Sarah Ward tells us, “Don’t cue to do – cue to know what to do”. As we practice timed relays for getting ready and out the door with everything he needs, I ask questions such as, “How are you going to know when you are ready?” and “Would you do anything differently?”.

Slow processing speed can impact all areas of executive function.  Can slow processing speed improve?  Practice, practice, and practice!   Research shows that repeating a task makes it become more automatic and quicker to process.  Practicing timed activities that challenge learners to “beat their best time” can help build processing speed.  Strategies such as Get Ready-Do-Done and visuals including lists, schedules, and timers in addition to cognitive modeling and thinking aloud procedural steps provide a framework for successfully managing tasks.

Lucky for all of us using the Get Ready-Do-Done strategy, post-it pads and dry erase boards are available on Amazon or on the Cognitive Connections website



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Elevation is a social emotion. It is the positive feeling that one experiences after seeing an act of altruism, virtue or human beauty.  I received the following article from the parent of one of my clients with the question, “Do you have any recommendations for videos or movies that we can watch together as a family to give A. opportunities to experience the feelings of elevation and compassion?”

I was amazed to learn from reading the article that Thomas Jefferson described the emotion of elevation 200 years ago.  Witnessing unexpected acts of kindness, courage or compassion can make us want to help others, give unconditionally and become better people.  Jefferson wrote, “When any…act of charity or of gratitude is presented to our sight or imagination, we are deeply impressed with its beauty or feel a strong desire in ourselves of doing charitable or grateful acts also.  Observing good deeds can “elevate” our bodies and minds, opening our chests and hearts”.

There is a series of Thai commercials on YouTube that will make you “feel all the feels”.  The one posted below shows how one young man gives without any expectation of getting something in return.  What he does get from his altruistic acts is something money cannot buy.  He gets emotions, witnesses happiness and feels the love.  It is a perfect example of what my client’s mother is seeking to help to inspire her son to become a compassionate, caring young adult.



I have started using these video clips during therapy sessions with A.  The following books by Dr. Anna Vagin have helped me to construct a framework for discussions and social/emotional learning.



The following video clip prompted a lovely lesson on the Ripple Effect.

A. is hoping that his Bar Mitzvah project will create a ripple.

I have found that it is much easier for A. to describe what he is thinking as we watch the video clips. With some help from me to dig deeper, he is beginning to use his words to express the feelings.  His mother reports acts of kindness that she is observing (without the response, “What’s in it for me?”).  I think that he is beginning to understand that not all rewards are tangible and kindness is unconditional.

My best,


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