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Menatlizing skills of non-native, early signers: A longitudinal perspective

Journal article
Authors Kerstin Watson Falkman
Carin Roos
Erland Hjelmquist
Published in European Journal of Developmental Psychology
Pages 178-198
Publication year 2007
Published at Department of Education, Special Needs Education Unit
Department of Psychology
Pages 178-198
Language en
Keywords Deafness, late signers, longitudinal data, theory of mind, mentalizing
Subject categories Psychology


Using a longitudinal design the mentalizing skills of a group of deaf childrenwere tested with a wide array of theory of mind tasks over a period of threeyears. A selection of results from the first two years of testing is reported here.The children were non-native signers, but had been offered a good regime forthe development of sign language as soon as their deafness was discovered. A comparison group of hearing children matched for mental age and sex also took part. There was a wide variation in performance between children in the deaf group, both across different tasks and over time, while the hearing group performed more or less at ceiling on all of the tasks included already at the first data collection time, and showed very little variation in performance across tasks. Also, the deaf children, as well as the hearing children, performed 100% correct on a test of non-mental representation, i.e., the false-photo task (Zaitchik, 1990). The present results speak in favour of the crucial importance of early communication using a common language for the typical developmental trajectory of mentalizing skills.

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