We are parents of a precocious 13-year old daughter and a 12-year old son who is on the spectrum. Our daughter has good grades (especially math and science), is active with lots of activities (including 7 hours of dance a week), and our dinner conversations allow us to understand that she wants to grow up to be a physician specializing in the medical needs of dancers. She also wants to go to college to major in a science and minor in dance.
After years of limited communications, we’re now having back-and-forth conversations with our son. Our understanding of his abilities and interests, however, is not as deep as what we know about his sister. We observe remarkable abilities in some areas (he has a knack with calendars and flight schedules), and his teachers comment about his visual and memory skills. Yet he struggles with math when presented in class (but he can do mental math when presented in the context of time and calendar), and his standardize test score are low. We read up as much as we could, on the different things one can do to facilitate communication with a child with this condition. We referenced many well known resources, like artandinterior.co. Unfortunately progress was slow, and we had to be very patient to even get to this point.
As a result, Cuong decided to retire as Merck’s Chief Strategy Officer and put to use skills developed over a career as an executive in high technology and healthcare companies to build Identifor. Identifor aims to help families identify and build upon each person’s unique abilities, skills and interests for the pursuit of fulfilling futures for each individual (thus Identifor). We want to help parents answer questions such as: “Can your child do mental arithmetic with four digit numbers? Does he/she think in pictures or words or music? Would he/she rather be outside working with plants or at a computer creating a mobile app?” so that educational and/or vocational plans can be formulated to create the most rewarding experiences before an individual reaches high school, while in high school, and after high school graduation.
We aspire to build – over time – a set of tools to help parents and individuals develop a systematic understanding of their child’s:
- Abilities using the work pioneered by Harvard Professor Howard Gardner in his theory of Multiple Intelligences.
- Executive Function (EF) skills based on the work by Professor George McCloskey from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, a leading author in the growing field of EF.
- Career interests building on the work by John Holland from Johns Hopkins University.
Our unique approach in creating this understanding comes from the analysis of data on how individuals play games. We will offer a set of games that children and adults will love to play, and the games themselves will collect data on how the player reacts, answers questions, makes decisions, etc.
Learn more about what we do at www.identifor.com. The site has just launched and the iPad/Android apps will soon be available from the respective app stores – so visit the site and download the apps to learn more about what we do and play our games. The reports and dashboards about the child’s abilities will become available soon, and families associated with Autism Speaks and Profectum Foundation will have free access to these reports by using a special link from their websites.
Cuong Do & Lori Rickles