A-I Matrix™

The A-I Matrix: For a nominal fee (i.e. less than your morning latte or cappuccino), you can access current information on strategies, which link practical interventions to areas of need, as well as areas of strength (PIKS). For a free sample: Click on the button at the intersection of Homework and Executive Functioning in the table below for information and strategies pertaining to how Executive Functioning impacts Homework. To sign-in or subscribe: Click any purple button (other than the free sample) in the A-I Matrix below.

View Enter The Matrix instructional video

Note: Interventions and strategies are not necessarily exclusive to a single placement in the matrix grid and can overlap/apply to other areas. Efforts were made to minimize duplication of strategies, so be sure to look across various areas in the matrix for ideas.

Practical Interventions to help Kids Succeed (PIKS)
Time / Organization
Test Taking
Social / Emotional / Motivation
Academic Skill
Verbal Reasoning
verbal reasoning homework strategies verbal reasoning time and organization strategies Verbal reason test taking strategies Verbal reasoning and focus strategies Verbal reasoning and meltdown strategies Verbal reasoning and social strategies
Nonverbal Reasoning
nonverbal reasoning homework strategies nonverbal reasoning time and organization Nonverbal reasoning test taking strategies Nonverbal reasoning and focus strategies Nonverbal reasoning and meltdown strategies Nonverbal reasoning and social, emotional and motivation strategies nonverbal reasoning and academic skill strategies
Language / Auditory
language / auditory homework strategies language / auditory organization strategies language / auditory test taking strategies Language / auditory focus strategies language / auditory homework strategies Language / auditory social, emotional and motivation strategies Language / auditory academic skill strategies
speed homework strategies Speed time organization strategies Speed and test taking strategies Speed and focus strategies Speed and focus strategies Speed and social, emotional and motivation strategies Speed and academic skill strategies
memory and homework strategies memory and time and organization strategies Memory test taking strategies Memory focus strategies Memory meltdown strategies Memory and social, emotional and motivation strategies Memory and academic skill
Homework attention strategies Time, organization and attention strategies Attention and test taking strategies Attention and focus strategies Attention and meltdown strategies Attention and social, emotional and motivation strategies Attentiona and academic skill strategies
Executive Functions
executive functioning homework resources executive functioning time management and organiztion resources executive functioning time management and organiztion resources executive functioning time management and organiztion resources executive functioning time management and organiztion resources executive function and social resources executive functioning time management and acadmic resources
Social / Emotional
social / emotional / motivation homework strategies Social emotional time organization strategies Social emotional test-taking strategies Social emotional focus strategies Social emotional meltdown strategies Social emotional and social strategies Social emotional and adademic skills
Sensory and Motor
Sensory / Motor and Homework Sensory / Motor and Time Organization Sensory / Motor and Test-taking Sensory / Motor and Focus strategies Sensory / Motor and Meltdown strategies Sensory / Motor and Social strategies Sensory / Motor and Academic strategies
Achievement and Homework Achievement and Time / Organization Achievement and Test-taking Achievement and Focus Achievement and Meltdowns Achievement and Social / Emotional / Motivation Achievement and Academic Skills

NRventions Blog

Picky Eaters 10.28.20

There are many reasons why individuals may be highly selective when it comes to food. There may be sensory sensitivity to smell, appearance, texture, or taste of certain foods. Motor challenges or preferences for neatness may interfere with eating some foods. Children may have social anxiety related to eating due to pressure, judgment, teasing, or criticism. A food aversion may have developed following illness or trauma if the child ate a certain type of food just prior to becoming nauseated or distressed. A history of medical issues or procedures can also contribute to avoidance of certain foods. Compassionate, gentle children are often animal lovers and sensitive about foods that are particularly overt in origin (e.g. steak, ribs, lobster) or sometimes avoid meat, poultry, and seafood altogether. These are just some examples for understanding possible reasons for picky eating.

An important distinction to make:
Does the eating pattern interfere with the child’s health?
Does the eating pattern merely bother you?

If the child is eating a small variety of foods, getting adequate nutrition, and maintaining a normal growth rate, then try to relax and re-evaluate your demands and expectations rather than battling for total control over the child’s eating habits. If the child is not eating enough variety to maintain adequate nutrition and growth, then professional assistance may be warranted (see list of professionals below).

Three Principles:
1.) Be respectful of the child.
2.) Avoid judging the child’s food preferences.
3.) Do not force.

Visual Appearance of Food
The color, shape, or consistency can impact the appeal or repulsion of food.
- Carrot sticks may appeal more than carrot slices
- The color of steamed broccoli may appeal more than boiled broccoli
- Bright or pastel colors may appeal more than drab, faded, or dark colors
- Separated or layered food may appeal more than food that is mixed all together
- Serve small portions
- Allow the child to contribute to the artistic presentation of food through arrangement on the plate, use of squirt bottles for creating designs with sauces, use of garnishes

Experiment with presenting vegetables in different forms, as the color, texture, and taste changes, depending on if it is raw, boiled, roasted, or steamed.
- Help the child identify textures by providing description words: chewy, soft, mushy, crunchy, crisp, slimy, rubbery
- Blend vegetables (e.g. kale, avocado) into a smoothie or sauce to minimize chunks
- Add a fruit to alter color palette
- Add seasonings for flavor
- Try slicing and roasting brussel sprouts with olive oil and sea salt for a crispy snack (this tastes vastly different than the mushy boiled brussel sprouts)
- Present a choice of vegetables in raw or cooked form
- Engage children with selecting vegetables in the store, rinsing vegetables, or growing vegetables in a garden

Ease of eating
Difficult to eat foods can create a barrier for eating in public if the child is easily embarrassed or can hinder eating if the effort required is greater than the desire.
- Meats are harder to cut than fish
- Large sizes are messier than very small bite-sizes
- Pre-sliced or cubed cheese involves less preparation than having to slice a block of cheese
- Grabbing a bag of chips or a cookie is much easier than preparing a nutritious snack, so increase convenience through putting portions of healthy snacks in baggies or containers for each day or preparing a platter in advance with cut fruits or mini sandwiches (cut in quarters)
- Practice food preparation in a fun manner with the child to make it less effortful

Rather than emphasizing specific foods or eating patterns, it can be helpful to teach children the value of nutrition for balanced energy and focus, as well as to be aware if certain foods (or lack thereof) make them feel foggy, lethargic, hyper, or irritable. The ultimate goal is to establish healthy eating habits, not necessarily a wide and adventurous food palette.

Books & Articles related to Selective Eating:
10 Tips for Picky Eaters
Picky Eating in Children: causes and consequences
Helping Your Child with Extreme Picky Eating

Children’s Books
Evaluation and Treatment of ARFID

Professional Assistance:
- Consult with pediatrician regarding nutrition levels and growth rate
- Consult with a nutritionist or health coach (find Nutritionists in your area)
- Occupational therapists can assist with eating difficulties related to sensory sensitivity (AOTA)
- Speech therapists can assist with eating difficulties related to oral motor challenges (ASHA)
- Counselors can assist with eating difficulties related to emotions and/or perceptions (Therapists)
- National Eating Disorders Association

Creating an Effective At-Home Work Environment 10.04.20

A Guest Blog from Sam Barnes, Center Director of Star Tutoring Centers in Dallas

It's easier to change the environment than it is to change behavior. If you have made the shift from going into a classroom (or an office) to now learning (or working) from home, get off on the right foot by optimizing your work space. These tips can help both students and adults working from home and are intended to improve Executive Functioning.

1) Externalize your thoughts. Stuck on a problem? Not sure how to kick off a paper or a project? Talk it over with a family member or a friend. This helps overcome what might appear like procrastination.

2) Find ways to replicate your "normal" day. Did you use to do homework with a study group? Meet up with them on Zoom or Google Hangouts. For adults, you can also keep your office-mates on screen throughout the day.

3) Remove distractions. Unplug the TV and game consoles. If needed, install apps on your computer and phone that prohibit accessing certain websites or apps.

4) Ask your family to respect your study / work space. Set clear expectations with your family about study space and blocks of the day for school work.  Help them be mindful about minimizing interruptions and distractions which disrupt your productivity.  (However, parents should also keep a mindful eye that your students are staying on track.) 

5) Keep a normal daily routine. Try getting up at the same time, getting dressed (no pajamas), walking the dog, and trying to be ready for school / work at the same time every day. You can even make a bag lunch for school (or work) – make your lunch in the morning and take it to your work space. Interrupting your day to make lunch can be a huge distraction.

6) Invest in the right computer accessories. If you are going to be at a computer for 8+ hours a day, consider getting a full-size keyboard, Bluetooth mouse, foam wrist supports, and other devices that make your life easier.

7) Get a second monitor (including for students!). If you have to flip between different tabs or apps, you are taxing your working memory. If you have a second screen, you can have more information up at once which relieves your working memory. For example, you can have your e-textbook on one screen and your homework on the other screen - much easier than flipping back and forth.

8) Get a printer! Print out worksheets and notes. "Paper is high-tech for those with ADHD."

9) Have a big work space and spread out. Try to keep all of your papers and binders within arm's-reach. "If it's out of arm's reach, it might as well be on the moon."

10) You don't need to have a "pretty" office like you see in a model home. It's okay if you have your papers and binders out. "If you can find it, it's not disorganized."

For more suggestions and tips, you can reach out to Star Tutoring Centers for a free consultation.  Their program offers online assistance and combines academic tutoring with Executive Functioning skills development.

Ask Your School Psychologist 10.02.20

Did you know that all U.S. public schools have access to a school psychologist?  These professionals hold advanced degrees and serve in various roles from preschool through high school. 

School psychologists or LSSPs (Licensed Specialists in School Psychology) provide an array of services, including:

– consultation with general education teachers in the classroom to help a particular student

– direct counseling or social skills training to students who are eligible

– individual evaluation in a variety of areas, including social/emotional, autism spectrum, attention, behavior, and in many states, academic achievement

– assist with school crisis management

–  training others for how to de-escalate behavior

– working in collaboration with special education teachers

– assisting families with a child’s needs

–  some school psychologists have post-graduate training and certification in School Neuropsychology to provide in-depth assessment for complex students

School psychologists who work for a public school district are often assigned to several schools within the district, so you may see them darting about on campus or between campuses.  Typically, the best way to access a school psychologist is through the school counselor or the special education department.

School psychologists can also work outside of a school district, so you may find them in agencies, hospitals, or private practice.  They can be a helpful resource for collaborating between school, family, and outside sources.

There are many different types of professionals who provide services to children, and periodically, NRventions will try to have a guest blog from some of them to share some insight.

for past Blog posts, click here