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Autism’s Hidden Curriculum: A Genuine Lifelong Challenge

Autism's Hidden Curriculum: A Genuine Lifelong Challenge

Autism’s Hidden Curriculum: A Genuine Lifelong Challenge

While the autism hidden curriculum may sound like a complicated phrase, understanding it is not complex at all. It simply means those unwritten social rules that people seem to pick up instinctively. There are many of these unwritten rules that everyone seems to know, and yet hardly anyone talks about. In this article, we’ll go over some hidden curriculum examples so you’ll get the gist of why this is a lifelong challenge. After all, social rules are difficult enough without having to understand all the complex unwritten rules.

Societal Expectations

One of the dangers of the autism hidden curriculum is that although they are never taught we’re all expected to magically know what they are. We are also supposed to know what impact our words and actions will have on others, even though at times we have never been in the exact same situation before. For example, most people know that hugging a stranger without knowing them first could make that stranger uncomfortable. But how do we know that? Another example is talking a lot without noticing that the person you’re talking to is bored or not paying attention. How do we learn to notice these social cues when they’re not usually taught or talked about?

Different Behavior Depending upon the Circumstances

Different circumstances call for different behavior. So if your environment changes, so too will how you’re expected to behave. There’s a spectrum of environments that range from casual to more formal, with different rules for each. So on the more casual end would be your home. Your community would be a little more formal, and the community would be towards the formal end of the spectrum. And if you were at a concert or in a restaurant, your behavior would be more formal still. The autism hidden curriculum would change depending upon the age of the person you’re interacting with, too. People who are older tend to be more formal in the way they speak and younger people tend to use more slang. If you’re talking to someone of a different gender, you might be a little more formal and courteous. Of course, there are always exceptions to every rule.

Dos and Don’t of the Autism Hidden Curriculum

Just as there are some things we shouldn’t do, there are also some things we should do to fit in and stay in other’s good graces. For instance, saying please when making a request is a good idea. And to say thank you after someone does you a favor is also a very good idea. Maybe that’s why please and thank you are considered “magic words.” One don’t would be to not insult someone when they have given you a present, but to thank that person. Sometimes that can be very difficult–because you’re saying one thing, but you’re thinking something else. For instance, if you receive a book as a birthday gift, but you already have a copy of that book, you might be thinking “I don’t want this!” But if you said that, you’d risk insulting the person giving you the gift. That could be both unkind and impolite. It might be better to instead thank the person. After all, they had good intentions when they chose the book for you.  

Pros and Cons of the Autism Hidden Curriculum

You might be secretly pleased when you understand the autism hidden curriculum. So one pro would be that you feel that you’re in an exclusive club when you understand what everyone expects. But the downside is that you might feel that you’re guessing whether you’re doing or saying the right thing. And that can lead to stress, which is usually a negative thing. One of the characteristics of hidden curriculum is that they can be positive and negative at the same time.

Some of the Autism Hidden Curriculum is Straightforward

There are some rules that are easy to implement, and putting those into play may give an autistic person a sense of mastery. For instance, greetings are important to most people. Saying “hello, nice to meet you” when you first meet someone is a good social practice because it signals the beginning of a conversation. Likewise, saying goodbye when you or someone else leaves is another positive and easy-to-understand social practice. If you see someone struggling because they fell down, you might say “do you need help?” That one is fairly straightforward. Another straightforward example is asking personal questions of strangers. That could be considered rude.

Others Parts of the Autism Hidden Curriculum are More Difficult

Some people think you should always be smiling or looking at people in the eyes when speaking to them, and that may take more practice. There are different rules for different social situations. When you’re speaking directly to one person, most people think you should maintain eye contact. But for an autistic person, eye contact can sometimes be difficult. And the rule about smiling? That is also difficult if you aren’t talking about something pleasant. It’s difficult to always have to consider what effect your words might have on other people. This hidden curriculum is not always easy! You could also call hidden curriculum implicit curriculum because it’s implied, but never spelled out in black and white.

In Summary

As part of the autism hidden curriculum, being kind and polite are very important. If you’re unclear about whether something you have said might be either kind or impolite, perhaps asking a trusted friend could help. And then that friend could explain why something is unkind or impolite, and what you might have said instead. The autism hidden curriculum is related to soft skills. If you’d like to learn how to improve soft skills, see How to Improve Soft Skills in Your Autistic Teen.

 

The Importance of Starting Career Planning for Students Five Years in Advance

The Importance of Starting Career Planning for Students Five Years in Advance

The Importance of Starting Career Planning for Students Five Years in Advance

Everyone has heard about the importance of career planning for students. In particular, it’s critical to begin planning farther in advance than you would probably believe. Although some parents would like to begin planning when a child is in kindergarten, that might be a little extreme. Would you believe that the best time to begin student career planning is five years in advance? At Identifor, we believe that the perfect time for career planning for students is five years ahead of time. In this article, we’ll go over career guidance for students, careers advice for students, and cover a career exploration tool to help you and your student prepare for college.

Importance of Career Planning for Students

At Identifor, we believe that any career planning for students should begin with an assessment of a student’s strengths. Think about what your student does best, and how those strengths can be applied to a career or career path. A strength-based approach in career planning for students can inform the choices a student makes when choosing a career path. By the way, if you or your young adult still don’t know what his or her strength is, you may want to use Identifor’s games to help figure that out. It’s an easy and fun way to highlight the skills your teenage student may have. Not only that, but you can sign up for free. You may also want to discover what “soft skills” and adaptive behaviors that young person will need for that career. Working backwards, the child’s school team and family can assure they work on the building blocks to help them ultimately reach the endpoint before graduation so they are fully prepared.

Student Career Planning

Many kids can tell you what they would like to do for a career, but that doesn’t mean that what they’d like to do is necessarily a reflection of their actual skills. That’s why career planning for students ahead of time is so important: if a student can begin to explore the opportunities that they may actually encounter, they will have more realistic expectations. That’s not to say they should settle for a job that they don’t enjoy. A student may not realize what his or her own strengths are, so focusing on the careers that use those strengths can help them follow the right path. And that first job may be a stepping stone to the right career path. Identifor’s dashboard lists specific suggested careers that make sense for the user to explore further. And any suggested careers are directly linked to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Onet website which gives a granular view of what the job entails: skills and abilities needed, etc. The Onet website also shows which careers have a “bright outlook” and which are dead-end jobs.

Career Guidance for Students

Career guidance for students can, of course, come from career counselors. There are plenty of other people that may also help with career planning for students. Teachers, principals, friends, parents, grandparents, and others can all help narrow the choices. Once the young adult has some ideas, then they may want to test their choice or choices by taking internships, going to summer camps, or volunteering for short stints so that they can see what their options are, and understand what the daily activities of their choice might entail. Sometimes young adults romanticize a career and seeing the daily chores they might have to do could open their eyes and change their direction. By allowing enough time to change direction, the career planning for students process is really worth the investment.

Career Advice for Students

Just as with career guidance, career advice for students can come from a variety of sources. In fact, students may not realize the types of careers that are available. There are many new career paths available, so it’s critical to have career advice from someone who’s up on the latest types of careers. They may have heard about stereotypical careers, but not about unusual career choices. For instance, autistic teens may have heard about careers in computer programming, but might not realize that they could also pursue their dream of becoming a graphic designer or working behind-the-scenes in Hollywood. And there are many careers that did not exist until recently, such as data scientists. Hence beginning the career planning for students process with plenty of time will allow you and your young adult the luxury to fully explore all the options. Identifor also has an article about Transition Planning for Students on the Spectrum: Achieving Success on the Spectrum: https://www.identifor.com/blog/?p=216

Career Exploration Tool

Did you know there’s a tool to help your teenager explore possible career choices? The Holland Occupational Themes is a theory of personality that focuses on career and vocational choice. There are six different categories of occupations, based on your suitability for the occupations. These six types sum up the RIASEC acronym (realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising and conventional. RIASEC is also known as John Holland’s Six Types of Personality. John L. Holland developed the RIASEC theory during the 1950s. Be sure to investigate these six types of occupations during your career planning for students. For more information about the career exploration tool: https://www.identifor.com/about/riasec.

In Summary

Hopefully, you and your young teenager have a few ideas about the importance of starting career planning for students at least five years in advance. Once you have a clear direction, this information can be used in the goals and objectives of the transition part of IEP or career plan. Although that idea might seem daunting, the results will be well worth it in the end. For more information about RIASEC: https://www.identifor.com/blog/?p=293

 

Job Readiness and Your Teen

Job Readiness and Your Teen

Job Readiness and Your Teen

While you might not have been obsessing over your teen’s job readiness, it has probably been at the back of your mind for a while. Although no one is ever completely prepared to face the job market, it’s critical that your teen have appropriate employment readiness skills so that he or she feels confident to talk to a potential employer. In this article, we’ll go over a few items that can help your young adult with their job readiness. And that will help both of you have more peace of mind!

What is Job Readiness?

Job readiness not only means that your teen should be ready to talk to the person who can hire them, it also means that your adolescent can keep that job once hired. Your young adult needs to have the job skills that the person who is hiring needs. There should be a match between your teen’s skills and those that the company is looking for. A job readiness skills assessment can help your adolescent prepare for the process. A job readiness skills assessment usually includes the traits that your young person has, along with their score, and what the meaning of that score is. Or, a simpler form of a readiness skills assessment might simply have a list of the skills needed. These skills may be divided into soft skills versus hard skills, as in our previous article.

Employers require a wide range of skills from those seeking employment. The Human Resources person your adolescent will talk to is carefully looking at your teen’s resume as well as how your teen might fit in with the rest of their future co-workers. That’s why it’s so important that your young adult has a job readiness skills assessment before ever setting foot in their desired job location.

Job Readiness and Interactive Games

To help with employment readiness for youth, Identifor has interactive games that can help parents figure out what your teenager’s strengths are. Your young adult may not have a realistic idea of what his or her own strengths are, and that’s where the games can help. For instance, one young lady did not believe she liked computers, but the scores from Identifor’s games showed that her computer skills would be a strength. Her job readiness significantly changed as a result of the interactive games!

Your teenagers are probably already playing interactive games, so why not use those games to ready them for a possible job? Having a meaningful job will help to ensure that your young adult stays employed longer. Chances are, this holds true for anyone: having meaningful work is key to staying employed.

Job Readiness Activities for Youth

Once your teen or young adult has played some of Identifor’s games, you may begin to compile a list of their strengths. They’ll need to play enough games so that their strengths come through on Identifor’s dashboard. This may require some patience from both the teenager and the parent if the teen wants to rush ahead and find a job immediately.

You or your teen may also want to compile a list of companies nearby who are interesting, who need the skills that your teen possesses, and who may be hiring. You may also want to think about transportation. How will your young adult get to that job if it’s offered to her? How long will such a commute take? That may seem like a tall order, but it can be done a little at a time.

Role Playing

In terms of employment readiness, role playing can really help bolster a young person’s confidence. If he is prepared for the possible questions that may be asked during an interview, for example, he will probably feel much less anxiety about the interviewing process. After all, a job interview is difficult for anyone.

Some of the topics that may be covered during an interview include:

  • What the company does
  • Clarification of any details on a resume
  • Asking if the teen has any questions

Preparing a few questions to ask the interviewer can shift the balance a bit. Your teen can really shine when she asks intelligent questions about the company and what her role and job responsibilities would be. The ultimate goal is to find a good match between the teen’s skills and the job opening.  

In Summary

We hope that you and your young adult now have some ideas for job readiness. Moving from living at home and being dependent to becoming independent and more self-sufficient can seem like a big undertaking. Knowing what a child’s strengths are is a huge hurdle that will give both the parent and the young person more confidence. Ultimately, having that list of strengths will help to land that young person the right employment. We strongly believed that our strength-based approach gives young people an advantage so they can be matched with not just a mere job, but meaningful employment. We’ll be covering that topic in more depth in the future.

Since we’re on the subject of strengths, why not try out Identifor’s free games? The games are a fun and easy way to determine where a teen’s talents lie. You and your child may be surprised at what the dashboard shows you about their multiple intelligences and executive strengths. Identifor’s games can not only help with career direction, the games can pinpoint meaningful employment for your young person. And the games are available 24/7!

Further Resources: A Three-Step Process to Decreasing Prompt Dependency.

prompt dependency

A Three-Step Process to Decreasing Prompt Dependency

It’s important that we not let children become too dependent on the direction we provide for them. However, even in the best of cases this does happen sometimes. There are various reasons for that. There is no magic fix, but there is a process that can help reduce dependence on prompts. In this article we will go over the process to decrease prompt dependency in autism, but first let’s discuss what it means to be dependent on prompts.

Prompt Dependency Definition

Prompt dependency is a type of behavior where a child relies on being told what to do by a parent or caregiver. This is normal, and expected, in certain situations. When it crosses the line into being prompt dependence is when the child knows exactly what to do, but is still waiting for the prompt before taking action.

Being dependent on prompts can make it difficult or impossible for a child do things by themselves. In the most extreme cases of prompt dependence, even something as necessary as eating or going to the bathroom might not be possible on one’s own without being prompted to do so. That’s why decreasing prompt dependency is critical as a child gets older. The goal is to teach them greater independence in all areas of life, including responsibility, regulation, and relationships. This is accomplished by teaching skills and skill sets that the child can initiate independently, use across all environments, and maintain over time.

Identifying Prompt Dependency

You might notice prompt dependence in a number of different ways. For example, your child may stand by the door every morning completely unprepared for the day. That’s because he or she is waiting for you to prompt them to do something like get their backpack, get their lunch, put on appropriate outdoor clothing, and so on. If your child stands around waiting to be told what to do, whether it’s getting ready in the morning or anything else, that’s a key sign of prompt dependence.

Prompt dependence can occur for many different reasons. It most commonly occurs in children with autism because children who have difficulty with motor skills or cognitive and language delays receive more prompting than others when they’re very young. As a result, they get in the habit of waiting for the prompt, while parents get in the habit of providing the prompt before they actually need it.

Decreasing Prompt Dependency

There is no one way of breaking prompt dependency in autism. This is a process, and it’s perfectly OK if it takes some time before you start to notice progress being made. Just keep in mind — when you change your behavior, your child’s behavior will change as a result. So stick with the process and you will start to notice a difference.

  1. Consider the areas in which your child is too dependent on your prompts. This involves any situation in which your child waits for you to act before they do, even if they know what they should be doing. Think ahead to all of the skills they eventually need to learn in the coming years, but start with the most basic activities of daily life (personal hygiene, dressing, safety, etc.) before moving onto more complex tasks.
  2. Instead of providing the usual direct commands or answers in these situations, encourage your child to try figuring out what to do on their own before asking for help. For example, instead of stating “Go clean your room,” you can ask “What steps do you need to take to clean your room?” Be patient, and offer positive reinforcement for the attempt, even if the child isn’t always successful. This will help them learn that the act of trying is a good thing.
  3. Plan which strategies you want your child to use and teach them over and over again. Going back to the example of the child waiting for a prompt to get ready in the morning, a strategy you might use in this situation is a checklist of things they need to do before leaving the house. Then, when they ask for help in the morning, they can refer to the list. Eventually they may progress to the point of getting ready in the morning without referring to the list at all.

This simple 3-step framework is an easy-to-implement starting point for decreasing prompt dependency. To take this concept even further, parents can educate themselves on prompt hierarchy and how to move from external to internal self-prompts. There are various types of prompts (i.e. physical, verbal, and gestural) and strategies for how to decrease dependence on them.

Always remember that it’s an extremely gradual process to move an individual from intense prompt dependence to self-sufficiency. As you begin trying new approaches, remember to pause and give wait time to encourage the thinking process, rather than immediately correcting the child.

In Summary

We hope you’re able to take these examples and use them to generate ideas for reducing your child’s dependence on prompts. This is a simple process that could be applied to just about any situation where you find your child is particularly dependent on your clear, explicit direction. The goal in every instance is to encourage independent problem solving. Remember to always reward the attempt, because taking action without waiting for direction is considered a success.

Recognizing a child’s areas of greatest intelligence, and strongest executive functions, can help create an effective plan to reduce prompt dependence. The most fun and engaging way to identify talents and strengths is to have them try some of our free games, which explore the full range of a child’s multiple intelligences and executive functioning skills.

Further Resources: Transition Planning For Students With Autism: Achieving Success on the Spectrum

rewards for chores

Creating a System of Rewards for Chores

Giving rewards for chores is an effective way to reinforce good behavior. Rewards are also a good motivator, but it takes more effort to get kids to actually complete the chores than simply rewarding them for doing so.

Getting kids to do chores involves creating a plan, providing structure, and giving them a sense of purpose. Rewards for chores is encouragement to continue going through the process day after day. But there has to be more to get them going in the first place.

One of the most effective methods of getting kids to do regular chores is chore charts. While there are great computer programs and mobile apps that keep track of chores, there’s still something to be said for the visual reinforcement of an old fashioned, printed out or hand-written chore chart.

Rewards for Chores Step One: Creating a Chore Chart

A big misconception about chore charts is that they’re only meant to list jobs, and other things the child should be doing. However, chore charts are far more effective if you look at them as a way to shape behavior. This is important to keep in mind, because doing regular chores around the house at an early age pays off later in life.

What you want to focus on with a chore chart is the behavior you want your child to eventually develop into a habit. Chores do not have to be limited to tasks like doing the dishes, folding laundry, cleaning the litter box, and so on. Household chores can involve anything that would be helpful for the child to develop into a lifelong habit. Some examples could include having them brush their teeth twice a day, pick up after themselves, hang their clothes up, make their bed, etc. Consider giving extra rewards or some kind of additional accolades if the task was completed independently.

When you’re creating a chore chart you want to list things that are easy for your child to do, even things that they may naturally do on their own anyway. The idea is to set them up for success. So you want to choose things they can do, but struggle with doing consistently over time. The very last “chore” at the end of the day could be reporting to you what they’ve accomplished. This will make it easy for you to monitor their progress without having to check off the chore chart multiple times throughout the day. Also consider the use of a companion app to help your child independently stay on track with their chores throughout the day.

Step Two: Determining Rewards for Doing Chores

Now, let’s get back to the main thing you wanted to learn about today. What are the appropriate rewards for chores your child has completed throughout the day? As a parent, it’s easy to go completely overboard with rewards for your child. We highly suggest you refrain from doing that. What you want to do is make the reward equal to the task they’ve been able to accomplish. You also want to make it meaningful for them. With that said, money isn’t always the best reward for children. Money doesn’t really have value to children in the same way that it does for adults. So, for some children, being rewarded with a favorite meal could be meaningful. This would be appropriate for accomplishing larger goals, whereas a small treat might be more appropriate for completing smaller tasks.

What would be helpful for your child, and to you as a parent, is determining what is most meaningful to your child when establishing this reward system. Once the rewards for chores have been determined, match them with a task (or series of tasks), and add them to the chore chart. Then the child will know exactly what to expect when completing chores, and it will be displayed on the chart for them to see as a means of encouragement.

Rewards for Chores: In Summary

Now you can see how chore charts and rewards tie in together, and hopefully you have a better idea of how to determine appropriate rewards for chores. Another way that rewards for chores pays off later in life is that it teaches the child about contracts at an early age. This is important because life is made up of contracts. Chores and rewards is one type of contract. School is another type of contract— when you fulfill a series of requirements you earn the right to graduate. Employment is another type of contract— fulfill your duties for the employer and earn a paycheck. Completing tasks on a chore chart to earn rewards will set your child up for success at fulfilling other contracts when they get older.

Identifying strengths and weaknesses in a student’s multiple intelligences can help guide you toward the areas that need the most attention when developing a plan for developing behavior with a chore chart. The most fun and engaging way to identify talents and strengths is to have them try some of our free games, which explore the full range of a child’s multiple intelligences and executive functioning skills.

hard-vs-soft-skills

Differences Between Soft Skills vs Hard Skills

In school and in the workplace an individual’s abilities are grouped into the general categories of soft skills vs hard skills. Let’s look at the difference between these two skill sets.

Soft Skills vs Hard Skills Examples

Hard Skills

Hard skills are learned through school or on-the-job training. These skills are specific to a particular job. For example:

  • A hard skill for a cashier is using a cash register.
  • A hard skill for a teacher would be lesson planning.
  • A hard skill for an electrician would be the ability to use specialized tools and machines.

Every job requires an individual to have a particular set of hard skills in order to perform their duties.

Soft Skills

Soft skills are non-specialized skills that may be useful no matter what an individual does for a living. You may also hear them referred to as “transferable skills” because you can transfer them from one job to another. Soft skills are often used in everyday situations as well, not just in the workplace. Examples of soft skills include:

  • The ability to work with a team
  • Communicating with others effectively and efficiently
  • Time management
  • Problem solving
  • Multitasking

As you can see, soft skills can be used in a variety of everyday situations. That’s the greatest difference between soft skills vs hard skills. The ability to use a cash register is really only useful while working as a cashier, whereas the ability to multitask is useful at just about every job.

As you may also gather from the above soft skills and hard skills list, while the two sets of skills are different from one another they are both necessary to be successful on the job.

Developing Soft Skills vs Hard Skills

Hard skills are more objective and concrete that soft skills. That means that once you learn how to do a particular task you would then possess that skill. Soft skills, on the other hand, are more difficult to develop. They are not learned through training sessions, rather, they are acquire over time by practicing them in the real world with other people.

Hard skills are easy to measure, as employers can get a fairly good idea of an individual’s hard skills by looking at their education, previous work experience, and certifications. Soft skills are more difficult to evaluate as they cannot be simply communicated through a cover letter or resume. Employers typically cannot evaluate soft skills without going through a job interview, or seeing how an individual performs during their first few weeks on the job.

One thing that soft skills and hard skills have in common is that a particular skill may come naturally to some people, while others do not have such an easy time with them. So an individual should not be discouraged if he or she feels they don’t possess a particular soft skill. Just as a teacher can become more efficient at lesson planning over time, a person can also become more efficient at multitasking over time.

Another way to understand soft skills is by comparing them to executive functioning skills, as they are all technically soft skills. Executive functioning skills are learned in the same way as soft skills, they are not easy to evaluate, and they take time to develop. Like executive functioning skills, soft skills are also versatile and transferable from school, to work, to social situations, and to independence at home. For example — skills like pacing, self monitoring, taking initiative, and prioritization can be used at various times throughout one’s life.

By contrast, hard skills are specialized abilities and difficult to transfer outside of the situations in which they’re most useful. Cooking is a great hard skill to have, but it’s only useful when you’re in the kitchen preparing meals. Knowing how to build a computer is another skill that, while nice to have, is not something that can be transferred to other tasks.

That brings us to another term you may be familiar with — generalization. In terms of acquiring skills , generalization is the concept of using past learning in present situations. It allows people to transfer knowledge across multiple situations. This is something everyone can relate to, and it is directly tied to both soft skills and executive functioning skills. Take self monitoring and editing, for example. You may discover, in various situations, that using manners such as “please” and “thank you” evokes a more positive response than omitting those words. Knowing that, you would become conscious of using good manners more often.

In Summary

By now you should have a better idea of the differences between soft skills vs hard skills. Believe it or not, one way to evaluate a child’s soft skills and hard skills is through fun activities like computer games. We encourage you to introduce your son or daughter to Identifor’s unique selection of games, which can help identify the strengths in their skill sets.

riasec assessment

RIASEC Assessment: Identify the Ideal Career Choices for Your Child

A RIASEC assessment is one of the starting points for helping students develop an educational plan for high school and college. RIASEC stands for:

  • Realistic
  • Investigative
  • Artistic
  • Social
  • Enterprising
  • Conventional

RIASEC test results can be used to match students up with appropriate career choices, which are determined by their abilities, interests, and traits. Educators can assist with RIASEC test interpretation and put the student on a path toward a career they’re best suited for.

A RIASEC assessment is unlike any other standardized test a student will take throughout their academic life. There are no right or wrong answers, and students can take as long as they need to complete it. The only requirement is that students are as honest as they can be with their answers. This is incredibly important, as being anything less than truthful can lead a student down the wrong career path.

Results from a RIASEC assessment can help identify the ideal types of careers for the individual student, based on John Holland’s six personality types.

  • A ‘realistic’ personality means the student may excel in jobs that require physical labor.  
  • An ‘investigative’ personality means the student may be suited for jobs that require them to analyze and solve problems.
  • An ‘artistic’ personality means the student may excel in a job that allows them to be creative.
  • A ‘social’ personality means the student will likely excel at working as part of a team.
  • An ‘enterprising’ personality means the student may be suited for jobs where they’re the boss.
  • A ‘conventional’ personality indicates the student is detail-oriented, well organized, and enjoys working with data.

Conducting a RIASEC Assessment

A RIASEC assessment doesn’t necessarily have to be conducted at school, or under the supervision of an educator. With the right tools, a RIASEC assessment can be completed from the comfort of the student’s own home.

Identifor has created a unique way to conduct a RIASEC assessment which, believe it or not, involves playing computer games. Identifor‘ s games have been designed to help individuals with autism spectrum disorder identify their RIASEC profile without a typical pencil-and-paper test.

When playing Identifor’s games, players are first presented with images of different types of activities and asked to select which one is more desirable. Based on their choices, and how they interact with the games, Identifor’s analytics engine will generate a RIASEC profile.

In most cases, we find that students with autism spectrum disorder are more likely to stay engaged with Identifor’s games than a pencil-and-paper test. That’s why we encourage you to introduce them to our games, as they can identify your child’s skills and abilities in a way that can’t be accomplished by simply writing a test.

Not sure if this is the right approach for your child? You’ll be happy to know Identifor games are always free to play, so you can see first-hand how they’ll keep your child engaged as you gain valuable insight into their traits and abilities.

Sign up for free, and your child can start playing right away on their computer or mobile device.

interactive learning games

Interactive Learning Games Online for College Students and Adults

A commonly held belief is that online games are a waste of a student’s time. Many believe online games don’t provide any value to a high school student, college student, or adult’s life and only distract from things that are more important. To them, we say you haven’t found the right games.

Not all games are designed purely for entertainment purposes. On the contrary, there are interactive learning games that are designed to complement a student’s education and improve cognitive function. What are also known as brain training games, interactive learning games online are the mental equivalent of regular gym workouts. The brain isn’t exactly a muscle, but it can still be exercised in a similar fashion.

Interactive learning games can improve cognitive functions such as problem-solving, visual discrimination, and working memory. They can also be a means of assessing learning strengths that might apply to future goals.

Just like working out the body can improve physical performance, working out the mind with interactive learning games can improve cognitive performance over time. In this article, we’re going to focus on recommending some of the most accessible interactive educational games for students— the kind they can play on their phones!

In order to get students to play these games regularly, they have to be designed in a way that easily fits into their lifestyle. Since they’re on their phones throughout the day anyway, it takes nothing to open an app and play some interactive learning games for 5-10 minutes a day. Here are 4 of the top apps for learning games that students can play on their iPhones or iPads. These are all “freemium” games— which means they are free to play on a limited basis, but full access requires a paid subscription.

Top 4 Interactive Learning Games for College Students

1. Lumosity

With over 85 million users, Lumosity is the biggest name in interactive learning games for adults and college students. It features over 30 games that are designed to challenge a student’s memory, attention span, problem-solving ability, reaction time, and more. Results are measured on the ‘Lumosity Performance Index’ scale, which provides insight into the student’s abilities and progression over time.

2. Elevate

Elevate focuses on what the individual student wants to get out of using it. For example– maybe the student is already strong in reading and writing but needs to improve their abilities in math and problem-solving. Elevate has a vast selection of games that are geared toward all subjects, and students are provided with a post-test report with insights into their results.

3. Memorado

Memorado is perhaps one of the most relaxing learning games out there. It’s designed with a pretty palette of pastel colors, which is accompanied by a pleasant soundtrack if played with the sound on. Memorado doesn’t offer anything drastically different compared to Lumosity or Elevate, though students may find it more enjoyable to use due to its unique attention to good design.

4. Identifor

We would be remiss not to mention our own mobile app, which can be downloaded for free on both iOS and Android. Unlike other apps on this list, Identifor has been designed specifically for individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Identifor assists individuals with identifying their strengths and abilities. Insights provided by the Identifor app can be used to help develop educational and vocational plans. Identifor has proven to be a valuable tool for students, as well as parents, educators, and clinicians.

Follow these links to download Identifor for iPhone or Android.

activities for autistic teens

Activities for Autistic Teens

Activities for autistic teens are necessary for fostering an environment that will help them nurture and grow specific abilities. Autistic teens learn best through activities that are designed to teach them something specific.

Lessons in a classroom are not enough for autistic teens to learn and develop new abilities. Classroom teachings should be augmented with outside activities in order to help autistic teens learn through practical experience. This will help teens with activities like following their passions, finding like-minded people in social activities, attending clubs and conventions such as Comic-Con, and navigating social media with guidance.

In this article, we will present you with a variety of engaging activities for autistic teens, which can be both fun and educational.

5 Different Activities for Autistic Teens

Computer Games

Contrary to popular belief, not all computer games are bad for teenagers. Carefully chosen games can teach your teen a lot about developing different abilities. For example, studies show that online games for autistic teenagers can help enhance their problem-solving skills.

We recommend choosing educational games that encourage your teen to use logic, such as those found here at Identifor. If your teen prefers to use their phone over a computer, then you can download our companion app to their phone so they can play on the go. All games are designed to develop an autistic teen’s multiple intelligences, and parents can receive an ongoing assessment of their child’s progression.

Puzzles

Puzzles are not just for children. With puzzles designed for all age groups, they can help enhance the cognitive abilities of any individual. Autistic teens, in particular, are visually skilled and tend to enjoy working on puzzles. In addition, the hyper-focus of an autistic teen gives them a natural aptitude for solving puzzles.  Putting together puzzles could either be done as a solo activity or as a social activity with a friend or family member. Encourage your teen to discuss what they’re doing and thinking as they work through the puzzle. Completing puzzles as part of a team effort will help improve your teen’s speech and communication abilities.

Team Activities

Solo activities for an autistic teen should be balanced with team activities because interaction is necessary for developing social abilities. In order to help your teen live a fulfilling social life, they should be encouraged to participate in team activities whenever possible. Be careful not to force them into something they’re not comfortable with, and don’t overwhelm them with too many team activities at once.

Household Chores

It’s important to reinforce concepts like responsibility and sharing with autistic teenagers. One of the best ways for teens to develop a practical understanding of these ideas is by helping out around the house. Developing a sense of responsibility for where one lives is something that will help your teen well into their adult life.

Creative Activities

Autistic teens are wired to think logically, but there’s an imagination deep down that can be developed with creative activities. One of the best ways to break your teen’s pattern of logical thinking is getting them to create something out of nothing. This could include activities like art, crafts, building models, writing stories, playing music, and so on.

Activities for Autistic Teens: In Summary

When it comes to choosing activities for autistic teens, first think about the abilities your teen needs to develop. Pick activities that are geared toward nurturing those abilities. Also consider any possible challenges you may face, such as your teen not taking particularly well to a chosen activity.

Above all, we recommend choosing games and activities that match your teen’s interests. They’ll be much more eager to participate in an activity if it’s in line with what they already like.  As we mentioned, they’ll be able to use these skills to do things like following their passions, finding like-minded people in social activities, and attend clubs and conventions.

We encourage you to start by introducing your son or daughter to Identifor’s unique selection of games, which can provide greater insight into your teen’s cognitive development. For more information about assessing your teen’s abilities, please see our article about the RIASEC test.

how to improve soft skills

How to Improve Soft Skills in Your Autistic Teen

Soft skills are a set of intangible qualities that can determine one’s character, their attitude towards life, and their development of personal relationships with others. Unlike hard skills that can be measured through standardized testing, there is no way to measure soft skills.

However, that doesn’t mean they go unnoticed. When it comes to the workplace, look at it like this: hard skills will get you in the door, but soft skills are the real qualities employers look for. That’s why it’s important for parents to learn how to improve soft skills in their autistic teen

Like hard skills, soft skills can be learned, practiced, and improved upon. This is especially important for individuals with autism, as soft skills are more difficult for them to grasp. They may be able to make sense of the most complicated math problems, but struggle when it comes to workplace etiquette.

In this article, we will go over some tips for how to improve soft skills, which will help ensure your child is ready for the social challenges of the workplace.

Communication Skills

When communicating with others, a lot can be said through non-verbal communication. Show your child how to start interactions off on a positive note by teaching them about eye contact, tone of voice, body proximity, and gestures. It also helps to know how to detect sarcasm. It’s important for autistic teens to be given these communication cues expressively, while also being trained to read them from others in the workplace to get the full communication message

While communicating with your child, pay attention to where their eyes are looking. Remind them eye contact is important, and veering off in another direction can come off as rude. Making eye contact is the first step, the next step is to be an active listener.

The challenge of how to improve listening skills can be met with listening skills games. Try practicing with your child by quizzing them on things you talked about throughout the day. See how well they really listened to what you were saying. Have a reward system in place for getting all the answers right.

Interpersonal Relationships

Since a workplace consists of people all working together to achieve similar goals, the ability to build relationships with other co-workers is key. Collaboration activities and teamwork activities can help improve these skills.

Interpersonal skills can be practiced early on. Encourage your child to arrange study groups with classmates to improve their teamwork abilities. Suggest collaborating with friends on a group activity, such as planning a graduation party.

The challenge of how to improve soft skills can also be met with one-on-one coaching. Create some example scenarios and try role playing so you can see how your child would behave in different social situations. This can include simple scenarios, such as greeting coworkers in the morning and making small talk during lunch, to more complicated interactions such as resolving conflicts.

How to Improve Soft Skills in the Workplace

One of the greatest social challenges your child may face is interacting with potential employers during a job interview. Again, soft skills for a job interview can be improved with one-on-one coaching. Practice with your child by role-playing job interviews.

Critique their responses honestly. This will give them the opportunity to learn another workplace soft skill— accepting feedback. Giving and receiving feedback is a part of day-to-day life in the workplace. The ability to accept feedback and learn from it is a valuable skill for any employee to have.

Self-directed behavior is also highly valued in the workplace. This involves understanding what is expected of them, taking initiative, going the extra mile, and finishing work without having to be reminded. This can also be practiced early on with time management activities. Try assigning tasks to your child for work that needs to be done around the house, along with deadlines for completing the tasks. Bonus points if they take initiative by going above and beyond the assignments.

In Summary

By now you should have plenty of ideas for how to improve soft skills with your child. Believe it or not, another way they can receive soft skills training is through fun activities like computer games. We encourage you to introduce your son or daughter to Identifor’s unique selection of games, which can help improve soft skills such as problem-solving and creative thinking.