Below is a post by the husband and wife team of Cuong Do and Lori Rickles who created Identifor, a brand new website and app designed to help parents and individuals understand their own (or their child's) skills, abilities and interests using games. Cuong and Lori have assembled a team of collaborators who bring world-class capabilities in their respective fields.
The inspiration behind Identifor
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 allows us to understand that she wants to grow up to be a physician specializing on the medical needs of dancers. She also wants to go to Dartmouth College or Stanford to major in a science and minor in dance.
We’re now having back-and-forth conversations with our son, but our understanding of his abilities and interests are 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 hear stories of how some parents stumble upon something that their child is really good and is interested in doing, but we share the challenge faced by millions of families still trying to figure out what those special skills and abilities may be with our own son. We’ve spent years searching for tools and services that can create a more systematic assessment of his skills and abilities. We didn’t find anything.
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 own (or 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.
How does Identifor work?
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 Autism Speaks families will have free access to these reports by using a special link from the Autism Speaks website.