Pedagogical intersubjectivity, autism and education: Can teachers teach so that autistic pupils learn?

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Effective pedagogy and inclusive practice is located within the quality of learning relationships and the context-sensitive, moment-to-moment professional judgements made by teachers within learning interactions. In particular, good teachers are able to align themselves with pupils’ subject positions, though this experience of relatedness within learning interactions is a bodily one that is mundane and mostly overlooked. The aim of this article is to explore whether this account of learning, that crucially involves a shared way of being minded, is adequate to describe the learning of pupils on the autism spectrum. Problems with the idea of ‘pedagogical intersubjectivity’ in relation to autism are noted. Using personal accounts of learning interactions and recent micro-level research findings about the competences of autistic children in favourable interactional ecologies, it is argued however that experiences of relatedness in learning should be considered as important for autistic pupils too. It is concluded that a key aspect of good practice in relation to autism and education is that teachers are able to critically reflect on their bodily experiences of interaction with autistic pupils as a way of deepening their understanding and developing their professional practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)594-605
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Inclusive Education
Issue number6
Early online date16 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • autism
  • pedagogical intersubjectivity
  • experiential body
  • teacher understanding


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