Even though people described me as in my own world as I was growing up, I was in the same world as every other human being. I could not help it that other people could not see the details of the world such as the sun sparkles and the misty tails rising up from the ground early in the morning like I could, but that didn’t mean our worlds were different.
Sometimes autistic neurology – specifically our style of thinking and the way our brain handles information bumps up against what can appear to be psychiatric symptomatology. This has happened to me many times over the years. My style of thinking is visual along with being quite literal and concrete. I understand myself and, in general, thoughts, ideas and concepts by having or creating an object or visual representation of that construct. Here is an example:
I think in colors. My thinking colors have sound and movement. When I hear spoken words my neurology automatically goes for the match – a match for the words I hear to a familiar concrete picture of something in the world outside my skin or to an internal picture I have stored in my memory..
The neurology of a person with autism does not automatically organize the world outside their skin. When we are able to organize the happenings in the world we usually do so differently than neuro majority people.
As a young child I saw over and over how light from the sun interacted with water particles rising from the ground and with water droplets in the air. This repeated experience became useful over time in that I learned the predictability of this occurrence. I also learned the effects of various factors (such as clouds, rain, air temperature, wind, etc.) had on impacting the interaction of sun brightness with air and ground moisture.
The “hidden curriculum” refers to the set of rules or guidelines that are often not directly taught but are assumed to be known. Most people automatically pick up this hidden information; their brains work that way. For those of us with autistic brains, this information is truly hidden; we do not automatically pick it up. Hence, the term, “hidden curriculum.”