Theory of Mind and Language Development in Deaf Children

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Several studies have shown that deafness creates difficulties in skills in theory of mind (ToM). However, most research on development of ToM was based on verbal tasks. Deafness causing delays in access to language, weak results in classical tasks of theory of mind may be due to the linguistic component of the instructions. We would then compare the differences in performance between deaf and hearing children in classical (verbal) evaluation of ToM, to those found for nonverbal tasks. In order to better understand the acquisition strategies of ToM in deaf children, it seems important to study the success in the tasks of ToM as a function of their language level.
We propose to evaluate the understanding of false beliefs by deaf children aged between 8 and 12 years. We have chosen to use a nonverbal assessment of the ToM (Forgeot d’Arc, B., 2008). The child must choose the logical end of an animation. The various scenarios are presented in series with different levels of complexity (mechanical condition, mental condition with and without change, true and false belief). This test will determine the importance of the linguistic component of the task on the success of deaf children. Moreover, the language level of children was assessed. If deaf children do understand false beliefs, they should show no delay on a nonverbal task. If there is a delay in deaf children’s understanding of false beliefs, it should extend to a nonverbal task.
The data are in the course of treatment..
The results will be discussed in light of theory that language development is important to the acquisition of a ToM.


Keywords: Deafness, Theory of Mind, Language, Nonverbal Task
Stream: Special Education, Learning Difficulties, Disability
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Levrez Clovis

Ph.D, Developmental Psychology, University of Picardie Jules Verne
Amiens, France

I do a PhD in developmental psychology since January 2007. I work on early social communication, language and theory of mind development in Deaf Children. In this work, I used several tests designed to assess the communication between mother and baby, the children's language and theory of mind level. It could be interesting to share my work whith others who search on learning difficulties.

Ref: L09P1493