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Navigating the rules of social situations with the Hidden Rules Card Game.
Some actions in life seem to come naturally, so much so that it can be hard to remember even learning them! These might be things like treating authority figures such as police officers with respect, or adjusting our language and tone when speaking with different people. These instances are examples of hidden rules.
Hidden rules describe rules and behaviors that some people know without ever being specifically taught. These are cues that arise from socialisation and influence our social acceptance from peers. Hidden rules vary across culture, age, gender, religion and economic class. We can also call these rules social cues and they dictate how we communicate, foster relationships and act in our workplaces and communities.
While these rules can seem easy enough to follow for some, we can also take our knowing of these cues for granted. Some people, especially those with Autism Spectrum Disorder, can be unaware of hidden rules and how they affect social acceptance, friendships and healthy emotional and social development.
What makes these rules particularly tricky for some, is that they are hiding in every situation and environment! Social, learning and community environments can be particularly difficult for children with ASD to navigate if they aren’t aware of different social cues and how to respond to them. Some examples are below:
Social: Greeting people when you meet them, understanding facial expressions and body language, being respectful of other people’s personal space
Classroom: Speaking at an appropriate volume, allowing classmates to speak without interrupting, not commenting negatively on a classmate’s work.
Friendships: Taking turns to talk in conversations, speaking respectfully to others, understanding boundaries in personal contact and touch
Community: Respecting authority figures, appropriate behaviour in public places, being aware of risks
Hidden rules can be difficult to make sense of for some children and there are some ways that we can assist them to navigate these challenges:
- Role playing games provide a safe space to test out different situations a child may not feel sure of or uncomfortable in. This gives them a chance to work on and modify their reactions to different social situations
- Praise children when they have positive experience with hidden rules
- Use books and media to provide examples of characters following social skills and understanding of body language and facial expressions
- Use educational games to engage children to learn about hidden rules and social cues. A great resource is the Hidden Rules Card Game.
The Hidden Rules Card Game is a pack of 4 card decks designed for ages 6-12 that encourage social development by learning about the hidden rules in different situations. This set covers:
Social Situations - This fun card game will help children learn and practice 40 hidden social situation rules for everyday life. The object of play is to be the first player to get rid of all their cards.
The Classroom - This fun game will help children learn and practice 40 hidden rules in classroom situations.
Friends - When is it too late to call a friend? What should you do if a friend who is coming over has a food allergy? This clever card game will help children learn and practice 40 hidden rules in friendship situations.
The Community - There are lots of rules that kids should know when they go to the grocery store, the mall, the dentist, the doctor, and many more public places. This fun game will help children learn and practice 40 hidden rules in community situations.
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