Journal Article

Deafness, Story Understanding, and Theory of Mind

Colin D. Gray and Judith A. Hosie

in The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education

Volume 1, issue 4, pages 217-233
Published in print January 1996 | ISSN: 1081-4159
Published online January 1996 | e-ISSN: 1465-7325 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.deafed.a014298
Deafness, Story Understanding, and Theory of Mind

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The results of a number of studies indicate that prelingually deaf children raised in a spoken language environment appear to have difficulty in understanding and retelling stories. Various explanations have been offered: story understanding may be impaired by lack of background knowledge and vocabulary; the lack of access to the phonology of spoken language may reduce the capacity of short-term or working memory, preventing the child from retaining story events and organizing them into a meaningful interpretation; it has also been suggested that deaf children may lack story schemata and so cannot organize the incoming material. Other work, however, indicates that deaf children's story production can be excellent when elicited and evaluated by sensitive methods that place minimal emphasis upon English language. In this article, we argue that, in order to understand such apparent story understanding must be viewed within a broader perspective, including considerations of theory of mind and early socialization.

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Subjects: Education ; Linguistics ; Teaching of Specific Groups and Special Educational Needs

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