Objectives: The aim of this study was to compare Theory of Mind (ToM) acquisition in typically-hearing preschool-age children (TH), and deaf children of hearing parents (DCHP) who received a cochlear implant by 18 months of age, to determine if early access to spoken language via a cochlear implant affected ToM acquisition.
Methods: Participants included 25 children with cochlear implants ages 3.0 to 6.5 years and 25 age-matched children with TH all of whom were enrolled in preschools with typical peer models. The test battery included measures of expressive and receptive language and ToM.
Results: There were no differences between DCHP and TH peers on language or ToM performance. Hearing age was significantly different; DCHP had been exposed to spoken language for less time than their hearing counterparts by approximately 12 months. Language skills were correlated with ToM after controlling for chronological age.
Discussion: Early cochlear implantation may ameliorate some of the deleterious effects of congenital, profound deafness on oral language development; this could positively influence the development of social cognition.
Conclusions: Children who are deaf who receive a cochlear implant early and who have good oral language skills are more likely to acquire ToM in a typical time frame.
Key words: Cochlear implants, theory of mind, social cognition, language
Peters, K. A. Beer, J. Pisoni, D. & Remmell, E. (2021). Theory of mind acquisition in children who are deaf: The importance of early identification and communication access. Journal of Early Hearing Detection and Intervention, 6(2), 101-113. DOI: https://doi.org/10.26077/f2f7-49a9
Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/jehdi/vol6/iss2/11