Workshop Options

Dr. Dawson offers a number of workshop options. In addition to the ones described below, she is happy to work with school districts to design trainings that meet their specific needs. These may include:

  • workshops directed at regular education teachers to provide an overview of what executive skills are, how brain development governs executive skill development, what are developmentally appropriate expectations for executive skills at different grade levels, and classroom-based strategies to support executive skill development.
  • workshops for special educators (including teachers, school psychologists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, and behavior specialists) to learn how to design interventions both to limit the negative impact of weak executive skills and to help students learn effective coping strategies.
  • consultation services to help school districts implement school-wide approaches targeting specific executive skill challenges. We have not found “off the shelf” curricula to be particularly effective for schools that want to do something more comprehensive to address executive skills. Rather, helping schools identify the specific challenges they want to address and to work with them to design an approach that fits the unique needs of the school or district appears to be a more effective approach.
  • evening presentations for parents. These are offered to school districts within driving distance of Portsmouth, New Hampshire as a stand-alone offering. When a school district hires Dr. Dawson to do a full-day training with professionals, she is happy to provide a 1l5-2 hour presentation for parents at no additional cost.

To learn more about these trainings and those described below, please contact Dr. Dawson at

Smart but Scattered: Executive Dysfunction at Home and at School

Youngsters with poor executive skills are disorganized or forgetful, have trouble getting started on tasks, get distracted easily, lose papers or assignments, forget to bring home the materials to complete homework or forget to hand homework in. They may rush through work or dawdle, they make careless mistakes that they fail to catch. They don’t know where to begin on long-term assignments, and they put the assignment off until the last minute, in part because they have trouble judging the magnitude of the task and how long it will take to complete it. Their workspaces are disorganized, and teachers may refer to their desks, backpacks, and notebooks as “black holes.” Students with executive skill deficits present tremendous challenges to both parents and teachers who often find themselves frustrated by children whose problems in school seem to have little to do with how smart they are or how easily they learn.

Learning Objectives:

As a result of this workshop, participants will:

  • Understand executive skills within the context of brain development.
  • Be able to identify how executive skills impact school performance and daily living.
  • Have access to a repertoire of strategies to improve executive skills in students. These will include strategies to modify the environment to reduce the impact of weak executive skills and procedures such as coaching that can be used to teach children how to improve specific executive skill deficits in the context of home or school performance expectations.

Coaching Students with Executive Skills Deficits

Coaching is an evidence-based intervention strategy in which a coach (either an adult or a peer) works with a student to set goals (long-term, short-term, or daily) designed to enhance executive skills and lead to improved self-regulation. Originally designed to help underachieving students achieve academic success, it has been expanded to include a variety of formats, such as peer coaching and group coaching, to achieve both social and academic goals.

Through the use of didactic presentations, practice exercises, and group discussions, this workshop will:

  • Provide an overview of coaching and how it is ideally suited to helping students improve executive skills.
  • Give the audience a chance to work with the goal-setting process and to understand how the key elements of coaching combine to form an effective intervention.
  • Present an array of coaching strategies aimed at students from elementary school through the college level.

Smart but Scattered Adults: Managing ADHD by Targeting Executive Skills

Many adults with ADHD fail to finish college, hold down a job, progress in their career, or maintain satisfactory relationships with friends and family. Failure and the recognition that they are working well below their potential erode self-confidence, eat away at self-esteem. Even highly motivated clients with ADHD struggle to follow through on the changes they need to make to improve their physical or emotional well-being. They know they need to change, they know what they need to do to change, they may even be able to take a step or two toward making those changes—and then they plateau or give up. What’s getting in the way is not their unwillingness or resistance to change, but weak executive skills.

Executive skills are underlying brain processes that help people manage their everyday lives, get things done, control their emotions, and help them manage obstacles that interfere with productivity and behavior change. Attend this seminar and learn cutting edge neuroscience on executive functioning and practical strategies for your ADHD clients to help them overcome the obstacles presented by weak executive skills. At the end of the day you will be able to best help your clients assess their executive skill strengths and weaknesses and create an action plan that is realistic and leads to true and lasting change.

As a result of attending this seminar participants will:

  • Outline the key role executive skills play in understanding adults with ADHD.
  • Compare and contrast assessment tools to determine clients’ profiles of executive skill strengths and weaknesses.
  • Direct clients on the best way to restructure their environment to reduce the impact of weak executive skills.
  • Build a realistic change plan that enables ADHD clients to improve executive skills in situations and settings they identify as problematic.
  • Discuss effective strategies ADHD clients can use to cope with executive skill challenges in the workplace, the home and in relationships.
  • Identify tools to enhance 12 executive skill domains.