The Hidden Curriculum

In any social setting, there are covert rules and social norms. In a school setting, these are referred to as the “Hidden Curriculum.” Subtle social cues are often missed or misunderstood by individuals with autism, leading to confusion, frustration, anxiety, and sometimes social isolation.

AU’s Pathways program will provide support for students with ASD to help them navigate the college experience in three areas:

Executive Functioning: the mental process that enables the ability to plan, filter distractions, control impulses, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks

Social/Emotional Development: the ability to understand and manage emotions, feel and show empathy toward others, and establish positive relationships

Independent Living Skills: the basic skills needed for daily living at home, school, and work, and in the community

At AU, some examples of the Hidden Curriculum could include:

  • What is appropriate participation in class
  • How loudly to speak in class versus at the library
  • What are subtle ways to step out of class if I need to
  • How to approach the professor to discuss a grade
  • How long to converse with my professor or peers after class
  • How to choose a partner or group for an assignment
  • How many texts are too many when it comes to a new friend
  • When and how to invite someone to hang out
  • What hygiene habits help others feel comfortable being around me
  • When it is my turn to shower in the residence halls
  • How to balance my time between personal or social activities and homework
  • Which topics to save for discussion with only the people closest to me