Publicaties 2012

Pragmatic abilities in children with congenital visual impairment: an exploration of non-literal language and advanced theory of mind understanding


Children with congenital visual impairment have been reported to be delayed in theory of mind development. So far, research focused on first-order theory of mind, and included mainly blind children, whereas the majority of visually impaired children is not totally blind. The present study set out to explore whether children with a broader range of congenital visual impairments have a delay in more advanced theory of mind understanding, in particular second-order theory of mind (i.e. awareness that other people have beliefs about beliefs) and non-literal language (e.g. irony or figure of speech). Twenty-four children with congenital visual impairment and 24 typically developing sighted children aged between 6 and 13 were included. All children were presented with a series of stories involving understanding of theory of mind and non-literal language. When compared with sighted children of similar age and verbal intelligence, performance of children with congenital visual impairment on advanced theory of mind and non-literal stories was alike. The ability to understand the motivations behind non-literal language was associated with age, verbal intelligence and theory of mind skills, but was not associated with visual ability.