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| Words: 1595 | Submitted: 04-May-2011
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This topic introduces you to the importance of the hidden curriculum–the rules that we all know but were never taught–and how a lack of these skills impacts individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
A CURRICULUM is defined as "a course of study, often in a particular field" (American Heritage, 1985, p. 350). We often refer to the "math curriculum" or the "science curriculum" when describing a set of lessons within a specific class or grade level. Usually, textbooks or lesson plans lead students through progressively more difficult skills within the curriculum, requiring students to master one set of skills before moving on to the next level.
Just as there are progressively more difficult skills to learn in math or science, there is a sequence of skills to learn within the social curriculum. Unfortunately, the social curriculum has few textbooks or lesson plans that can be used as a guide.
The "HIDDEN CURRICULUM" is a term to used to describe the unwritten social rules and expectations of behavior that we all seem to know, but were never taught (Bieber, 1994). For example, children just seem to know that if you smack your gum in class, you will get in trouble. Most students also know that it’s not a great idea to tell an off-color joke in front of a teacher, even if the joke was funny in the locker room. Or; that it’s not a smart idea to argue with a policeman – even if he is wrong (Myles & Southwick, 1999). Similarly, students quickly learn which teachers are more insistent than others about conforming to classroom rules, who are more adept at catching them cheating on tests, and who are more gullible about accepting homework excuses. No one ever explains these things to them, yet students readily adjust their behavior according to those expectations, knowing what the consequences are likely to be, and are prepared to make those choices seemingly without effort.
Individuals who have ASD do not come equipped with the same ability to understand the hidden curriculum. As a result, they break a lot of social and behavioral rules without intent or even knowledge that they are doing so. This coupled with their difficulty in generalizing information from one situation to another leads them to making the same mistakes over and over again at a tremendous social cost.
For may reasons it is essential that people who are involved with individuals on the autism spectrum be aware of and to assist them in learning the hidden curriculum. First, lack of these skills results in barriers to social acceptability when children and youth make errors in this area. In addition, safety can be compromised when students don't understand the hidden ...
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