(847) 579- 9317 support@copingpartners.com

Susanne Phillips KeeleySusanne Phillips Keeley, MA, CCC-SLP, is a licensed speech-language pathologist, an author, and the developer of GOSTRONG®, a unique tool to maximize executive function skills. With over three decades of experience, Susanne specializes in treating individuals with executive function disorders and differences. She has penned titles such as Write This Down: Making your student planner work for you and The Source for Executive Function Disorders. Her expertise and innovative approaches in the field have made her a notable figure, and she is often invited to speak at conferences, educational institutions, and parent groups nationwide. Susanne operates a private practice based in Wilmette, Illinois, where she offers her services as an executive function coach.



Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • What are executive functions?
  • Defining “normal” on the spectrum of children’s executive function development Executive function skills and their impact on various groups of people
  • Ways to support children with executive function differences
  • The challenges of developing organizational skills in young children
  • Varying executive function challenges among fourth graders, middle schoolers, high schoolers, and adults
  • Why parents should avoid over-helping
  • How to teach children to regulate their emotions
  • Sleep deprivation and its effects on children’s executive functioning

In this episode…

Are your children getting the right amount of sleep, proper nutrition, and adequate planning for optimal performance? How do these fundamental elements impact their executive functioning skills?

According to Susanne Phillips Keeley, a seasoned expert in executive function coaching, these fundamental elements directly enhance a child’s ability to focus, manage time, and regulate emotions. They provide the brain with the structure to function optimally. Susanne emphasizes that sleep and nutrition are critical for brain health, affecting everything from attention span to problem-solving skills. Conversely, effective planning helps children learn to allocate their resources and time efficiently, significantly improving their executive functioning. By building these basic habits, parents can give their kids the tools they need to tackle academic and everyday tasks easily and successfully.

In this episode of The Coping Podcast, Dr. Leigh Weisz welcomes Susanne Phillips Keeley to explore the critical building blocks of effective executive functioning in children. They talk about the importance of sleep and nutrition, practical strategies for improving time management, and the role of parental modeling in developing these essential life skills.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Coping Partners.

Coping Partners is a mental health practice dedicated to helping children, adolescents, and adults manage various challenges including anxiety, divorce, behavioral issues, relationship problems and much more in the Chicago suburbs.

Our practitioners are devoted to building on our clients’ strengths and bolstering weaknesses.

To gain insight and tools for getting unstuck check out our website at CopingPartners.com, email us at support@copingpartners.com.


Episode Transcript:

Intro 0:01

Welcome to The Coping Podcast where we share strategies for coping with the stressors of life, especially the difficulties of parenting. And here is your host, Dr. Leigh Weisz.

Dr. Leigh Weisz 0:15

This is Dr. Leigh Weisz. I am the host of The Coping Podcast where I feature top experts on topics like raising healthy children, parenting and so much more. Past guests include therapist and researcher Dr. Eli Lebowitz, dietician Lara Field, and many more. Just a quick disclaimer. The information provided is for educational and informational purposes only. This is not intended to provide mental health treatment and does not constitute a client therapist relationship. The information provided is not a replacement for being assessed and evaluated by a licensed professional and is not intended to replace mental health or medical advice. Before we get into today’s topic, I wanted to introduce our guest, Susanne Phillips Keeley, who I’ve had the pleasure to work with when we have collaborated on cases in the past where I was the therapist and she was doing the executive functioning tutoring for the same client. Susanne Phillips Keeley earned her undergraduate degrees in communication disorders and speech science and in psychology from the University of Colorado, and she received her master’s degree in speech language pathology from Northwestern University. Susanne is a licensed speech language pathologist with over 30 years of experience, successfully treating those with executive function disorders and differences. She’s the author of Write This Down: Making your student planner work for you, The Source for Executive Function Disorders, and she developed a unique tool to maximize executive functioning executive function skills. Susanne’s innovative work has led her to be a frequent speaker at conferences, schools and parents groups across the country. And her private practice is located near us in Wilmette, Illinois. So thank you so much, Susanne, for taking the time to be here and share your expertise with us. We have spoken at length about your area, which is executive functioning, and I’m so glad that today you’re going to share with our parent audience more about what this looks like in kids and teens, and even adults, and really help us with what parents can do to support their kiddos. So to start, I’m going to ask you a real basic question, which is kind of to explain what executive functions even are.

Susanne Phillips Keeley 2:38

Such an easy question, and so hard to answer. Thank you. That was really nice introduction. Good. I appreciate you asking me. So what are executive functions, they are very high level brain skills, neurologic skills, that allow us to anticipate what needs to be done, identify what the end result is going to be, how we’re going to get to that, in result with a plan and timing and strategies and who else is involved and all of that. Simultaneously, we’re also taking in information from others in our environment, and from ourselves about what’s working and what isn’t, it requires mental flexibility to change direction when something isn’t going the way that it is, and to ultimately reach the goal that we were going for. So the goal can be something big and grandiose, like I want to be fluent in French, or it can be I need to clean the kitchen. So big and small. This executive function is kind of the view from 30,000 feet. It’s not the little bitty tiny pieces. It’s what’s the big picture look like? What’s the end result? And how am I going to get there?

Dr. Leigh Weisz 3:48

Yes, it’s there’s so much more than I think people think of when they think of executive functions. And yet, when people do not have, you know, really well developed executive functions, I think it’s very obvious. And that’s when we sort of noticed that most

Susanne Phillips Keeley 4:02

Exactly. And when you say when it’s developed, that’s one of the key things. So the frontal lobes are the front part of the brain. And that’s where executive functions are housed. Most parts of the brain have a pretty regular developmental sequence, and a lot of it is very early. So by the time, you know, we’re one, we can kind of get up on our two legs and start walking by the time or two, we’re putting some sounds together so that we’re talking and we have all these developmental milestones, many of which are kind of reached by school age. And then we get another big burst around puberty. Well, we get a whole bunch of new things. But this high level executive skill, this higher level cognitive thinking skill in the frontal lobes isn’t fully developed until we’re well into our 30s and some researchers even saying 40s And we all know people in our fifth Is that you’re like, we’re still waiting for it to develop. So, yeah, that’s one of the the important things to remember, particularly when we’re talking about kids, is that the expectation for developed executive functions, for a 10 year old, a middle school or even a college aged kid should really be in the context that they’re still developing. Another component to the development that is really interesting is that there’s, there’s such a wide range of normal. Again, back to the analogies of early things, you and I walk basically the same, you saw me walking in I lived, you would know that that was something different. With the exception of regional accents, we talk the same, um, there’s such a wide variety of normal executive function skills. You and I both know, adults that you look at, and you’re like, how do they even have on matching shoes, you know, they are so disorganized, they’re befuddled, They’re light, they’re never have what they need. And yet, they have a job, they have a family, they pay their bills, they they are making it, they’re doing just fine. It’s not the same as I would do it, probably not the same as you would do it. But it works. So when kids are learning how to develop these skills, the modeling that they get, is all over the place. So they see these differences in adults too. And that probably doesn’t help the speed with which things are, are developing, because they see some excellent examples than they see some poor examples. And yet, these are all the adults in their world. They’re getting by just fine.

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