Expert Interview: Do2Learn Activities for Autistic Children

Teacher and children
Creating consistency in all settings

Do2Learn activities for autistic children are valuable tools that can be used for a wide range of engaging exercises that prove to be both educational and fun. The site offers a comprehensive array of products, software and downloads that can be used in nearly every facet of a child's treatment plan. Virtual Reality Aids, Inc. is the company that supports Do2Learn and its President, Dorothy Strickland, PhD has taken time to answer questions about the website.

Interview with Dorothy Strickland, PhD

What inspired you to create Do2Learn?

In 1990, I was a faculty member at North Carolina State University (my PhD is in Computer Engineering), working with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, on a program for children with autism. When it ended, I thought it might be helpful to use technology to offer some resources to parents and teachers. The National Institutes of Health kindly awarded me a grant to transfer some of the technology research I had worked on to a format that would be more usable by the public. There is more background information at the About Us section of the site.

What learning tools are available?

We offer over 5,000 pages of free web content that varies from simple printable communication picture cards to a virtual reality practice safety game. We have developed several tools for learning and tested many with children with different disorders. These include:

  • Animated songs to teach safety rules
  • Simple games to teach social and learning concepts
  • Math and educational print activities
  • A color wheel to visually link facial emotions
  • Social skills worksheets
  • Many resources for teachers including behavior charts and classroom designs

Are the resources appropriate for home and school settings?

They should all be usable in either setting. We don't separate the two since children often benefit from consistency between home and school interventions.

What is the Make a Schedule program?

It is a simple-to-use software program that allows you to use our 2,500 custom images developed by therapists and artists to form schedules and story strips for aids in visual communication and behavior reminders.

Which products are best for developing social skills?

That probably depends on the child, but the three most widely used free resources on our site are the free face games in the Songs and Games section, the Emotions color Wheel and Social Skills Workbook under Get Organized, and the Teacher Toolbox which has social and behavior guidance for the classroom.

What is Faceland?

Faceland is a program we developed to try to help children better understand the emotions displayed on faces. It is based on extensive research on face recognition deficits many children with special needs display and prior research on how normal individuals process faces. It took about two years to develop and was designed and built by Donna Stanger, the ex CEO of Edmark and creator of over 100 award winning software programs. While there are several software programs that target facial recognition, none has shown any generalization to real people and most are not fun to play.

The goal of Faceland was to develop something kids would want to use that also taught them how to isolate parts of a face for emotion recognition. It has over 1,000 real-people faces that are randomly displayed in the 12 action games. While we are still in the testing phase, two small pilot studies have shown that children 5 to 8 were able to generalize the 6 emotions taught to faces of individuals they were not trained on.

Are there free resources for parents and educators on Do2Learn?

Actually, most of the resources are free. From the Site Map you can see over 5,000 page links including free picture cards, printable activities, games, learning songs, workbooks, and others.

Do2Learn Activities for Autistic Children

Do2Learn activities for autistic children can be catered to the child's individual needs according to his or her treatment plan. Parents, caretakers and professionals working with a child can target specific deficits, social skills, and problem behaviors while engaging the child in rewarding games and exercises. The site offers tools at no cost, no registration is required to use the site, and no ads are present, which allows visitors to stay focused on finding and organizing materials without distraction.

Whether you are an educator, therapist or parent looking for help and guidance, Do2Learn is invaluable. The Do2Learn activities for autistic children are developed and tested by professionals who are dedicated to helping children who face challenges on a daily basis, whether on the spectrum or not.

Special thanks to Dorothy Strickland for taking the time to answer questions about this valuable resource and for dedicating her talents to such a wonderful project.

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Expert Interview: Do2Learn Activities for Autistic Children