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Child Dev. 2006 May-Jun;77(3):751-66.

Relations between maternal input and theory of mind understanding in deaf children.

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Boys Town National Research Hospital, Omaha, NE 68131, USA.


This study investigates the relationship between theory of mind (ToM) skills in deaf children and input from their hearing mothers. Twenty-two hearing mothers and their deaf children (ages 4-10 years) participated in tasks designed to elicit talk about the mind. The mothers' mental state talk was compared with that of 26 mothers with hearing children (ages 4-6 years). The frequency of mothers' mental talk was correlated with deaf children's performance on ToM tasks, after controlling for effects of child language and age. Maternal sign proficiency was correlated with child language, false belief, and mothers' talk about the mind. Findings are discussed in relation to experiential accounts of ToM development and roles of maternal talk in children's social understanding.

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