Learning the hidden curriculum social rules of society remains a struggle for autistics long after they grow up. For example, even though I am an almost 60-year-old woman with autism, over the past few years, I have learned a lot of new-to-me hidden curriculum items. The hidden curriculum refers to all the social information that everybody seems to know but isn’t directly taught to anybody. Here’s an example:
I started painting with acrylics in 2012. I wanted to use that medium to illustrate aspects of my autism. To date I have written several articles and books along with speaking in three countries about aspects of autism. Painting is one more way to explain some of the nuances of autism to those who might be interested.
In the past few years I have had two encounters with the police while driving my car. The first time I pulled into a school parking lot, answered an email on my Blackberry, gathered my stuff together and let out a little scream, as I didn’t expect to see a police officer standing at my car door!
For most of my life airports have befuddled me. It didn’t so much matter earlier in my life because the only time I used an airport was to go to visit my parents in another state. Back then, before we had the heightened security of today, people were allowed to meet passengers as they stepped off the plane which allowed me to simply follow them through the airport without needing to concern myself with the confusion all around me.
THE HIDDEN CURRICULUM BEYOND THE JOB MATCH
The job match is considered crucial for successful employment of anybody, but especially so for adults with social-cognitive challenges, including those with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), who tend to thrive in jobs whose requirements match their personal strengths and preferences (Schutte, 2009).