Comparing native signing, late-signing and orally trained deaf children’s ‘theory of mind’ abilities
Van Staden, Annalene
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I argue that language skills and social interaction, specifically quality social discourse (reciprocal interaction) concerning mental states are pivotal in the development of social understanding and ‘theory of mind’ development. Thus, this research is grounded and positioned within the theories of social constructivism. ‘Theory of mind’ development in relation to language acquisition, social interaction and the assessment of ‘false-belief’ is presented. In addition, the advantage that Sign Language offers in the early years of a deaf child’s life is clearly demonstrated, by comparing the performance of native signing deaf children with deaf parents and late-signing and orally trained deaf children of hearing parents on different ‘false-belief’ tasks. In contrast to deaf children of hearing parents, deaf children who have deaf parents, are provided with natural access and exposure to Sign Language. As a result, native signing deaf children demonstrate developmental benchmarks in ‘theory of mind’ acquisition similar to typical developing hearing children.