Posts Tagged ‘Social Interaction’
Understanding the Hidden Curriculum: An Essential Social Skill for Children and Youth with Asperger’s Syndrome
Understanding the Hidden Curriculum: An Essential Social
Skill for Children and Youth with Asperger’s Syndrome
Brenda Smith Myles and Richard Simpson
This article by Brenda Smith Myles and Richard Simpson, both professors of Special Education, provides a clear look at what was for me a new term: The Hidden Curriculum – the social skills “we are not taught directly but are expected to know.” (2001) The piece also contains a great summary of the diagnosis and traits of children with Asperger’s Syndrome, as well as citing very helpful examples and anecdotes that make clear the absolute complexity of understanding social interaction for kids with the disorder.
Writer and scientist Temple Grandin, who is herself an autistic person, has written a rule system for guiding social interaction and this is also included in the article. Her clear, open comments and perspectives on what she has learned that one can and cannot do in public and the consequences resulting from not heeding her advice affected me greatly.
The authors maintain that it is possible to teach the nuances of social interaction to children and teens with ASD, but that it must be done through a systematic, structured approach which is painstakingly described here. Also included is a very helpful chart with examples of “hidden curriculum” teaching points, such as, ‘You should not have to pay students to be your friends,’ and ‘When a teacher is scolding another student it is not an appropriate time to ask the teacher a question.’ (2001) The use of social stories to teach appropriate responses and understanding of social behavior is also recommended, as are “acting lessons,” which are referred to as “an appropriate means of teaching to aid in self awareness, self-calming and self-management.”
I found this article to be very helpful in illustrating for me just how complicated social interaction must seem to young people with ASD, and the accounts of how interaction works in ways we do not even think about if we are not disabled in this way gave me additional insights into this problem.
Link – http://libcore.csd.sc.edu:50080/ebsco-web/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=b77f6ecd-f352-417c-a66c-9311243b17a9%40sessionmgr13&vid=2&hid=111
This article explores the uses of drama toward helping children with social challenges learn to think in terms of narrative conversations. The theory is that teaching them to use this skill will enhance their abilities for developing holistic, creative thinking and conversation rather than the analytical sequential mode of thinking that many of these children often use for communication and interpreting the world around them.
Much of the research and anecdotes center on work with children on the autism spectrum.
It is noted that ability to engage in narrative conversation requires”sensitivity to patterning, sequencing and the “framing” of experience(Bruner and Feldman, 1993) and that babies in all cultures are taught this through give and take games such as peek-a-boo, etc. Children with autism often do not master this skill in infancy and it appears that this is perhaps one of the causes for their failing to understand the sequence of social interaction. The dilemma for researchers is to understand whether this is a cause or a consequence of autism, but the fact remains that lack of participation in this type of experience at an early age leads to an interference in the way very little ones with these deficits develop normal play and the subsequent narrative thinking and language.
The article provides additional information on the neurological differences found in children on the spectrum, as well as how these differences can effect the development of social language and communication. I feel strongly that this article speaks to the concerns of teachers of children who struggle in social situations whether they are considered “on the spectrum” or “typically abled,” and the information provided can have a very positive effect on the understanding and practice of all teachers and towards all students.
This week I met with Mr. Chris Winkler, headmaster of the Glenforest School,http://www.glenforest.org/, to discuss beginning a drama program at Glenforest and also to talk with him about working out a situation where I could possibly use the Glenforest facility for Center Stage community programs such as our classes and workshops, and perhaps even having access to their auditorium for our plays.
Glenforest is a school for kids with learning differences. I have long wished for an opportunity to work with this population of students and feel that the social interaction inherent in theatre arts acitivities, be it onstage or off, is just one of the ways we can reach and help students within this set of qualities. I am the mom of two sons with ADD and other issues, bright and creative kids who struggled to be successful in the public school system. A program such as the one Glenforest offers would have made such a difference in their lives.
I look forward to meeting with Mr. Winkler as well as with Dean of Students Barton Calvert, a member of the faculty, board and parents organizations in the next week. I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.