The Hidden Curriculum: Practical Solutions for Understanding Unstated Rules in Social Situations

The Hidden Curriculum: Practical Solutions for Understanding Unstated Rules in Social Situations

Author: Brenda Smith Myles, Melissa L. Trautman, and Ronda L. Schelvan; Foreword by: Michelle Garcia Winner
Publishing Info: 2004
Reviewed by Maureen Bennie
Director, Autism Awareness Centre Inc.

The Hidden Curriculum: Practical Solutions for Understanding Unstated Rules in Social Situations is a book about the hidden social curriculum that occurs in everyday situations at home, school, and in the community. What is the hidden curriculum? It is items that impact social interaction, school performance and safety. It includes the use of idioms, metaphors and slang.

Neurotypical children learn this curriculum with little effort through social observation or subtle cues such as body language. Most children know to raise their hand in class before they speak, to wait their turn at the water fountain, to listen when someone else is talking.

For children with social-cognitive learning disabilities such as autism, PDD-NOS, Asperger’s, Nonverbal Learning Disability, ADD, ADHD, and in some cases Tourette’s Syndrome and Sensory Integration Dysfunction, observing and adopting the hidden curriculum can be difficult. This book beautifully tackles how to teach the hidden curriculum, where it exists, and lists the curriculum items complete with the social do’s and don’ts.

Written in an easy to understand format, the impact of the social curriculum in the home, school, community, workplace and legal system are outlined. Because a broad range of social situations is explored, the program can be used for preschoolers to teenagers. Ten models for teaching the hidden curriculum are explained and supported with charts and examples. One does not have to be an experienced therapist to try methods such as Situation-Options-Consequences-Choices-Strategies-Simulation (SOCCSS), social narratives, cartooning, and the Power Card.

The list of curriculum items, idioms, slang and metaphors in the final section of the book take the guesswork out of what to teach which is not always obvious to those who do not struggle with the hidden social curriculum.

The Hidden Curriculum: Practical Solutions for Understanding Unstated Rules in Social Situations is a must-have resource addition for anyone who lives or works with young people who have social-cognitive deficits.

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