I’m Not Sick: A rant about neurotypical privilege.

Gabrielle Bryden:

I came across this fabulous post from blogger feminist aspie and thought it was a must read for anyone interested in the lives of autistic people from the perspective of an autistic person – rather than always reading about autistic people from the perspective of neurotypical people like me.

Originally posted on Feminist Aspie:

Blogger’s Note, written 28/6/2015: Wow. This post is getting a LOT of traffic. It seems to be fairly high up on Google searches for “neurotypical privilege”, and last night it was posted on various social media sites by the wonderful Autistic Self Advocacy Network and my stats have exploded and it’s scary and wonderful. Thank you so much! I wrote this almost two and a half years ago, when I’d only been blogging for a couple of months, so apologies if the wording isn’t perfect. I absolutely stand by everything I’ve written here, but that might not necessarily apply to all my other really old posts that may appear near this one; I’ve learned so much since I started this blog, and I’m so grateful to those of you who have helped me on that journey. If you’re new, which you probably are, you might be interested in checking out my…

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Hidden Curriculum: The Autism Files

Hidden Curriculum: The Autism Files

We live in a world full of unwritten social rules that most people just seem to intuitively understand, without direct instruction. We generally know what behaviour is expected of us in different situations, and we have a good idea of the consequences of violating these social rules and behavioural expectations.

The number of rules is huge and varies across cultures, but here are some examples:

  • take turns speaking in a conversation;
  • don’t swear or tell off-coloured jokes to your teacher;
  • don’t tell someone their new outfit makes them look fat;
  • don’t stand too close to strangers,
  • don’t stare at strangers on public transport;
  • don’t hug someone you have just met;
  • follow your bosses instructions, even if you think he is an idiot and you have a better way of doing things.

These rules and expectations make up the hidden curriculum.

People with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often have great difficulty with social interactions and in deciphering the hidden curriculum. Having ASD can be like being a traveller in a country with a different language and customs – it is easy to put your foot in it and offend the locals.

Individuals on the spectrum, including those with Aspergers, often unwittingly break social and behavioural rules and they can suffer the consequences. They can appear rude, arrogant, and deliberately disrespectful.

Not understanding the hidden curriculum can result in difficulty making and maintaining friendships. They may become social outcasts and the target for bullies. Their safety, self esteem and ability to concentrate and learn at school may be compromised. They can become anxious and fatigued as a result of hyper-vigilance in a hostile environment.

They not only break social rules but are often unable to interpret the subtle signs and non-verbal cues (body language) emanating from the person they are offending.

For example, a person with Aspergers may monologue at length on a topic of special interest, such as trains or the benefits of rubbish collection, and be totally unaware that the recipient’s body language is indicating boredom (yawning, looking away) with the one-sided conversation. They will be surprised when the listener suddenly has quite enough and snaps at them to shut up. They will wonder what has gone wrong.

The person with ASD needs to explicitly discover the hidden curriculum through the help of therapists, teachers or books.

People who are involved with individuals on the spectrum need to be aware of these issues and to assist them in learning the rules for different situations. Direct instruction and the use of social stories and role playing activities can all be useful strategies. A book on understanding body language is also a great resource.

With help the individual with ASD can discover the hidden curriculum and develop skills to successfully navigate this social world we live in.

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Young Writers Award

Message from the State Library of Queensland:

Know a young writer with a story to tell?

There are just three weeks left for aspiring young writers to enter their short story in State Library of Queensland’s annual Young Writers Award for the opportunity to WIN great prizes and kick-start their literary career!

The competition is open to Queensland residents in two age categories:

  • 15–17 year olds (stories 1,500 words or less) – WIN an Apple iPad Air 2, an iTunes gift voucher and professional development opportunities
  • 18–25 year olds (stories 2,500 words or less) – WIN $2,000, a Brisbane Writers Festival pack and professional development opportunities

Entries close Friday 17 July.

Visit the website for entry details, tips on writing a short story, and to read past winning stories.

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Note: The Young Writers Award is supported by Queensland Writers Centre, Brisbane Writers Festival, and The Australian Writer’s Marketplace.

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Constructing Meaning

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A man curled in his despondency, rocking on his back,
sees a clown leering in the clouds;
another, dreaming his success and loosely splayed on the grass,
glimpses a white stallion dancing in the same clouds.

A woman with hooded eyes and grubby hands
perceives a tale in the tea-leaves to match her prey;
a girl attends to the misty words of the fortune-teller
and attains a life to fit.

They’re selling belief at the placebo shop,
I’ll take one bottle please;
cognitive dissonance is nothing to sneeze at,
I’ll pay to have it removed?

1. A mother, professor and magician
2. die in annus horribilis;
3. do bad things come in threes?

The eyes in the painting
are following me around the room.

Blood seeps around the edges
of a whitewashed history;
and we stand on the sidelines, applauding Ned Kelly,
and gangs of trigger-happy, rampaging bush-rangers,

after all, the convict is Australian royalty.
The adopted son searches for his identity.

The psychiatrist rolls out the inkblots
and the patient constructs the meaning.

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