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Provision of an individually responsive education requires a comprehensive understanding of the inner worlds of learners, such as their feelings and thoughts. However, this is difficult to achieve when learners, such as those with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and cognitive difficulties, have problems with communication. To address this issue, the current exploratory descriptive study sought the views of 133 Singaporean parents and teachers of school-age learners with ASD and cognitive difficulties regarding the inner experience of their children and students. The findings highlight the variety of abilities and difficulties found in how these learners experience their own mental states and understand those of others. These abilities and difficulties are characterized according to type of mental state and analysed in line with three qualia, those of experience, recursive awareness and understanding. The findings indicate that learners show a greater awareness of their own mental states compared to their ability to understand these same mental states in others. Educational implications are discussed.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

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Journal Article

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