How access to language affects theory of mind in deaf children

Marek Meristo, Erland Hjelmquist and Gary Morgan

in Access to Language and Cognitive Development

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199592722
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731488 | DOI:
How access to language affects theory of mind in deaf children

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This chapter examines theory of mind (ToM) and related aspects of social cognition in children born deaf or with severe hearing impairments. It shows that, while these populations have the potential to develop language and cognitive skills in line with their hearing peers, they often present with severe delays in mentalizing abilities owing to impoverished access to language in the home. Much has been written about how deaf children of hearing families have delayed ToM because of differences in their early interaction with their hearing parents, implying that the role of language as a tool for joint attention and coordinated action could be decisive. Other theories have stressed structural aspects of language as crucial for typical development of social cognition, whereas still others have focused on executive functions. In addressing these issues, the chapter describes some initial attempts at using mind-mindedness measures with hearing parents talking to their two-three-year-old deaf children. It also introduces some new measures of ToM based on nonverbal looking tasks that are particularly appropriate for deaf infants.

Keywords: social cognition; hearing impaired children; language skills; cognitive skills; mind-mindedness

Chapter.  8324 words. 

Subjects: Developmental Psychology

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