Cutting Edge Strategies to Improve Executive Function Skills 2016

Thursday & Friday, September 15 & 16, 2016

Sarah Ward, MS, CCC-SLP
Co-Director, Cognitive Connections LLP

Executive Airport Plaza Hotel

Cutting Edge Strategies to Improve Executive Function Skills 2016

You can also register by calling us.

Level Day 1: Introductory/Intermediate Day 2: Intermediate/Advanced
For Special educators, teachers, psychologists, social workers, SLP’s, OT’s, parents and professionals
Approach Executive Functioning
Autism-specific? No

Page Index

About the Event

Sarah Ward, MS, CCC-SLP, is returning to Vancouver to teach hands-on practical strategies to improve Executive Function skills. Whether you've seen her before, or this is all new, you're sure to walk away with new ideas and strategies to help you better assist clients, students, or your own children. 

These two days will provide you with dozens of practical strategies that you can implement tomorrow. You will learn about task initiation and execution to time management, practice using strategies such as ‘Future Sketch’, ‘Get Ready, Do, Done’, ‘STOP and Read the Room’, and seeing and sensing the passage of time. Through demonstration and practice, you will learn how to teach students the following executive control skills: awareness; forethought; waiting, planning skills; shifting; pacing; flexibility; speed of information processing.

Day 1: Executive Function Skills in the Classroom: How to Teach Students to Efficiently Initiate, Transition, Plan and Manage Tasks, Time Space and Materials (and keep their emotions in check!)

If you are a teacher, special educator or someone who co-teaches in the classroom, this day is for you! Individuals with strong executive function skills stay a beat ahead. Strong executive function skills enable us to imagine and plan a "dry run" of the task in our mind before we begin to carry out the plan. When forethought guides children's actions, they can carry out tasks more successfully. 


Future Thinkers: A New View of Executive Function Skills

  • Gain a new understanding on how students demonstrate executive function skills and a new perspective on the term “executive dysfunction”.
  • Learn the 360 Thinking Executive Function Model.
  • Understand the relationship between motivation and executive control.
  • The premise of executive function therapy and how to ensure strategies generalize.

Self-Regulation and Situational Awareness

  • Improving self-regulation: Understanding and treating the underlying executive control skills for task motivation, initiation and output.
  • Helping students to create futuristic imagination and do a mental dress rehearsal
  • Practice teaching students to develop situational awareness skills so they can “stop and read a room” and self-regulate their behaviors for a given situation.
  • Learn how students can think in an organized and flexible way about systems and then self-initiate to manage their personal belongings in personal and shared spaces.

Being a Beat Ahead: Following Routines, Initiating Tasks, Making Transitions

  • Teach student to develop a “memory for the future”,
  • Decrease prompts! Increase the independence with which students can self-initiate, transition, control their behaviors and impulses to complete tasks with less supervision and fewer prompts. Increase a student’s ability to fluidly transition from one mental mindset to another and to switch from a current task to being prepared for a new task

Classroom Makeover

  • Create a classroom that promotes independent executive function skills with less supervision and fewer prompts. Learn new ideas on how to organize the classroom environment to promote self-regulation.

Time and Task Management

  • Teach students to internally sense the sweep of time and to self monitor to sustain concentration, manage pace and comple tasks in allocated time frames.

The Get Ready, Do, Done Model

  • Turn the core classroom objectives and tasks into powerful tools to teach students executive control skills for classroom and treatment interventions.

What you will learn  
After completing this program, you will be able to:

  • State the functional working definition of “executive function skills”as it pertains to therapeutic interventions
  • Identify the typical developmental course of executive function skills and how to assess and identify Executive Dysfunction
  • Define how situational awareness, self talk, forethought , gesture/movement and episodic memory are the foundational skills for successful task execution
  • Develop an intervention program to foster a student’s ability to form more independent executive function skills.

Day 2: Specialized Instruction in Executive Function Skills: Developing and Implementing Individualized Executive Function Education Goals

Proficiency in the use of executive function interventions at the basic level is assumed for this day - ideally participants will have attended Day 1.This specialized Executive Function skills training defines, demonstrates and practices executive function skill interventions with hands-on activities. Participants will learn and practice more in depth therapeutic interventions. This day is designed to help professionals bring their practice to the next level of competence and effectiveness.

Learn how to recognize the executive function skills that might be either facilitating or impeding learning during instruction/coaching. Find out how these skills work together to enable a student to effectively create a goal, form a plan, and self-monitor through tasks in a timely and efficient manner.

Sarah Ward will briefly review the 360 Thinking Model of Executive Function Skills.  The seminar will cover, in depth, the practical aspects of treatment planning and implementation, and provide many new therapeutic strategies to:

  • Teach students to be a mind MIME. Learn how to help students truly create mental visual imagery for the future and to perform a mental dress rehearsal to sequence actions towards a goal and hold that prospective memory in mind while they execute and self-monitor through tasks
  • Increase situational intelligence and teach students how to ‘STOP and Read the Room’. Learn how to increase a student’s spatial temporal window or how far into the future they can see and sustain prospective planning.
  • Improve a student’s ability to calculate the time needed to complete tasks and self-monitor the passage of hourly and daily time. Help students be motivated and learn how to effectively use schedules.
  • Teach students how to break down complex tasks and assignments, as well as planning to organize and initiate tasks.
  • Teach students to adopt a mindful approach to record, bring home, complete and return homework assignments in a timely manner.
  • Teach students in school how to create a positive and productive environment for studying and independently completing their work at home.
  • Learn how to help students with long term project management by estimating time to complete and schedule steps, visually learn the impact of procrastination and to prioritize steps of the project.
  • Improve speed of information processing and cognitive flexibility
  • Learn a fresh way to interpret standardized measures to more clearly pinpoint and create a profile of a student’s executive function strengths and weaknesses.

What you will learn:

  1. Identify formal and informal measures to assess executive function skills.
  2. State the features of foundational executive function skills.
  3. List 4 treatment interventions to teach a student to observe, orient, decide and act  
  4. Name 4 techniques to teach a student how to create a mental visual and motor image of the future and sustain this forethought in working memory as a mental anchor while they carry out a task they pre-imagined.
  5. Explain the method for teaching students to calculate the required time for a task.
  6. Describe 4 methods for teaching a student how to visualize and plan hourly, daily and weekly time and prioritize tasks across multiple hours/days
  7. List 3 interventions to teach a student how to visualize complex tasks and then sequence and plan the requisite steps to complete assigned work
  8. Define the 3 factors that impact speed of information processing and list 3 interventions to increase the speed with which students can process, retrieve and organize information

Participant Comments

Comments from the 2014 Social Thinking Providers Conference in Richmond:

  • "Thank you so much, it was an absolute pleasure hearing you speak and learning such valuable skills to teach." (Professional)  
  • "I learned many practical strategies. I will definitely be implementing the “Get Ready, Do, Done” model and the clock!" (Para-professional)
  • "She was absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to get back home and work on these skills." (Parent)

About the Presenter

SarahWard_CognitiveConnectionsWebsite_August2014Sarah Ward, MS, CCC-SLP has over 20 years of experience in diagnostic evaluations, treatment and case management of children, adolescents and adults with language learning disabilities, nonverbal learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, executive dysfunction, Asperger’s disorders and social pragmatics.  Ms. Ward holds a faculty appointment at the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions where she provides instruction to graduate level students in the assessment and treatment of individuals with traumatic brain injury and other cognitive communication disorders.  A popular speaker, Sarah Ward regularly presents nationally and internationally on the topic of executive functions to a variety of professional and parent organizations, school and lay groups.  She has presented to and consulted with over 480 public and private schools in Massachusetts and across the United States.  Awards received include: Innovative Promising Practices Award (CHADD 2105), MGH Expertise in Clinical Practice Award, the Distinguished Alumni Award and the Faculty in Excellence Award from the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions (2002, 2011).

Workshop Schedule

8:00 - 9:00 Check-in; book browsing available
9:00 - 10:15 Session 1
10:15 - 10:45 Morning break (coffee and light snacks will be provided); book browsing available
10:45 - 12:00 Session 2
12:00 - 1:00 Lunch (a light lunch will be provided); book browsing available
1:00 - 2:15 Session 3
2:15 - 2:30 Afternoon Break (coffee and light snacks will be provided); book browsing available
2:30 - 3:30 Session 4

Please note this schedule is for both days. 


A light lunch will be provided for both days.  

Special Rate Promotion

Register for all four days of training for Two Days of Social Thinking (August 4 & 5, 2016) and Cutting Edge Strategies to Improve Executive Function Skills (Sept 15 & 16, 2016) and receive $50 off the total registration cost for the two conferences. Register at this discounted rate by choosing the online registration option, 'Both Social Thinking & Cutting Edge Strategies'. 

This discount is only valid if: 

  • you have not already received a group discount, and cannot be used in combination with any other group discounts
  • you register for both days of both events (no discount for single day registrations).
  • an individual is attending both events. It cannot be shared amongst attendees.
  • an individual is attending all four training days of the two events. In case of cancellations, original registration rates will apply. 


Attend One Day Only (Thursday or Friday)
    Parents, Para-pros
& Students
Early Bird ends  August 9, 2016 $225 $300
Regular Rate ends September 7,  2016 $275 $325
Late Rate begins September 8, 2016 $300 $350

Attend Both Days (Thursday and Friday) 

Date Parents, Para-Pros & Students Professionals
Early Bird Rate ends August 9th, 2016 $300 $375
Regular Rate ends September 7th, 2016 $350 $400
Late Rate begins September 8th, 2016 $375 $425


ACT’s live events are self-supporting through registration fees and sponsorship; we do not receive government funding. ACT fundraises to provide bursaries for low-income participants. We prioritize family members and autistic adults for bursaries which are given in the form of lower registration fees. ACT only provides bursaries prior to registration for those who want to join our online audience. Learn more about how to register using the ACT event bursary program. You are welcome to call or email ACT's office ( for more information. ACT provided over $11,000 in bursaries in 2019 and gratefully accepts donations to our bursary fund to allow us to provide a greater level of support. Donate to our bursary fund.

Autism Funding

Parents who receive Autism Funding may use 20% of the total for equipment, books, training and travel costs. ACT's live events are considered eligible expenses by the Autism Funding Branch. Please pay when you register; the Autism Funding Branch will reimburse parents after the event.
More Autism Funding Information >