In a few weeks we will have elected a new President of the United States. Many of us get our information from watching TV. The trouble with this is we only get the information the TV decides is news worthy. Unfortunately, most things concerning disability are not newsworthy. This means that rather than seeing a candidate’s disability policy on the evening news we are more likely to see a candidate’s latest purported scandal whether it is about deleted emails or admitted past sexual abuse. While these things can be informative, I think it is helpful to also understand where the two major candidates stand on issues directly affecting the disability community. Here is some of that information put side by side for comparison.
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.”
Today we have added something to our public perception of autism. Historically that perception has been one of an isolated small child rocking or head banging, oblivious to the rest of the world. Even though that perception is wrong, it is the public perception. There is an addition to that perception in the past few years. It seems society has added an adult image of autism. It is another false image, but never-the-less, quickly becoming an accepted public image of what it means to be an adult autistic. Unfortunately for all of society, that image is of a shooter. Not any shooter, but a mass shooter.
The visual sensory aspects of the way autism plays out for me most of the time means that I get too much information delivered – things are too big, too bright, too bold – typically too much to endure all day. Practically, this means I need to accommodate my sensory system in a variety of ways.
My autistic neurology means that I am not good at picking up typical social cues, understanding complex social situations, automatically picking up meanings of idioms, or understanding the hidden curriculum that most others automatically pick up (Endow 2012). This means I often look naïve and gullible. The fact is I AM naïve and gullible when I try to use the social constructs of neuromajority folks to navigate the world around me.