You've heard a great deal about the social studies or the science or the math or language arts curriculum. But, are you familiar with the term, " hidden curriculum?" These are the unwritten or implicit rules we were never taught but just seem to know.
The stress of the "first day of school" attire is one example of the hidden curriculum. (Do you remember it?) It's so important to be seen as wearing what everyone else is wearing and not stand out in any way, at least initially.
Students with disabilities are often "left in the dark" when it comes to an understanding of the hidden culture within the school. I will never forget the graduating senior girl with whom I worked many years ago. It was the tradition for seniors to wear the same shirt on class day, a shirt that was purchased prior to the actual day. This student was unaware of the tradition and was the only one to attend class day not wearing the shirt. I saw her later that day and she relayed the story with sadness and humiliation. Why did she not know? How was she left out? Who's responsibility was it to ensure that all students were aware of the tradition (hidden curriculum)?
It's important to understand that the hidden curriculum is unique at every school. Do you and your colleagues acknowledge the presence of the hidden curriculum? How are you addressing this unwritten reality to meet the needs of all the learners in your classrooms?
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.
“The Hidden Curriculum … consists of the unwritten, unspoken rules of school … its culture that includes shared norms, values, beliefs, traditions, rituals, and customs …In fact, success in the standard curriculum is often secondary to success in the Hidden Curriculum." (p. 253-255). “It is critically important that we teach the Hidden Curriculum to socially incompetent children with the same commitment and planning that we present the standard curriculum.” (p. 256).