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Theory of mind in children with cerebral palsy and severe speech impairment.

Authors Kerstin Falkman
Annika Dahlgren Sandberg
Erland Hjelmquist
Publisher Göteborg University
Place of publication Göteborg
Publication year 2004
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Keywords cerebral palsy, physical impairment, speech impairment, theory of mind
Subject categories Psychology


Theory of mind (ToM) refers to the ability to impute mental states to oneself and others. It has been argued that deficits in this ability are specific to individuals with autism. Recent studies on children with other communicative impairments, however, cast doubt on this suggested specific relationship. A study that investigated understanding of a range of mental states within a single group of normally developed participants suggested a three-stage model of development of ToM. Using this model a group of seven children with cerebral palsy and severe speech impairment were tested on a range of tasks requiring ToM. The findings suggest that the children in this group follow a normal pattern of development, but with a considerable delay compared with children without disability. The findings also cast further doubt on the suggested specific relationship between deficits in ToM and autism, showing that children with other disabilities also experience problems within this area, albeit be it not for the same reasons.

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