Why are they late? Timing abilities and executive control among students with learning disabilities

Nufar Grinblat, Sara Rosenblum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While a deficient ability to perform daily tasks on time has been reported among students with learning disabilities (LD), the underlying mechanism behind their ‘being late' is still unclear. This study aimed to evaluate the organization in time, time estimation abilities, actual performance time pertaining to specific daily activities, as well as the executive functions of students with LD in comparison to those of controls, and to assess the relationships between these domains among each group. The participants were 27 students with LD, aged 20–30, and 32 gender and age-matched controls who completed the Time Organization and Participation Scale (TOPS) and the Behavioral Rating Inventory of Executive Function-Adult version (BRIEF-A). In addition, their ability to estimate the time needed to complete the task of preparing a cup of coffee as well as their actual performance time were evaluated. The results indicated that in comparison to controls, students with LD showed significantly inferior organization in time (TOPS) and executive function abilities (BRIEF-A). Furthermore, their time estimation abilities were significantly inferior and they required significantly more time to prepare a cup of coffee. Regression analysis identified the variables that predicted organization in time and task performance time among each group. The significance of the results for both theoretical and clinical implications are discussed. What this paper adds? This study examines the underlying mechanism of the phenomena of being late among students with LD. Following a recent call for using ecologically valid assessments, the functional daily ability of students with LD to prepare a cup of coffee and to organize time were investigated. Furthermore, their time estimation and executive control abilities were examined as a possible underlying mechanism for their lateness. Although previous studies have indicated executive control deficits among students with LD, to our knowledge, this is the first analysis of the relationships between their executive control and time estimation deficits and their influence upon their daily function and organization in time abilities. Our findings demonstrate that students with LD need more time in order to execute simple daily activities, such as preparing a cup of coffee. Deficient working memory, retrospective time estimation ability and inhibition predicted their performance time and organization in time abilities. Therefore, this paper sheds light on the mechanism behind daily performance in time among students with LD and emphasizes the need for future development of focused intervention programs to meet their unique needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-114
Number of pages10
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd


  • Daily performance
  • Executive function
  • Learning disabilities
  • Organization in time
  • Time estimation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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