Advertisement

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 49, Issue 9, pp 3494–3503 | Cite as

Theory of Mind Development in Children with Visual Impairment: The Contribution of the Adapted Comprehensive Test ToM Storybooks

  • Gloriana Bartoli
  • Daniela BulgarelliEmail author
  • Paola Molina
Original Paper

Abstract

Research that focused on Theory of Mind (ToM) development in blind children showed that they were delayed, but not permanently deficient, in various types of false belief tasks. More recent studies reported first evidence of typical ToM development in blind children and suggested that more comprehensive tools to evaluate ToM had to be used. The current paper analyzed ToM development in blind children, using the adapted version of the ToM Storybooks; this is a standardized comprehensive test developed to provide a reliable and stable measurement, in comparison with the false belief tasks. Results showed that blind children’s ToM performances were very similar to the ones of matched typically developing children, matched on chronological age and gender. The current finding supported the importance of the use of a more comprehensive tool to assess ToM in atypical population.

Keywords

Atypical development Blindness ToM components First-order false belief task Adapted test 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Study 1 was run by the second and third authors, who would like to thank Maria Nives Sala and Nicoletta Pinto for their support in data collection. Study 2 reported part of the results of the first author’s Ph.D. Dissertation Thesis; she would like to thank Prof. Adriano Pagnin, PhD supervisor from the University of Pavia; Roberta Ceroni for the contribution in data collection; Dr.ssa Paola Caldironi, Executive Director of the Fondazione Robert Hollman at the time of the research, and Josee Lanners, Deputy Director of the Cannero Riviera Centre. We thank the children and the families who participated in the studies, the Fondazione Robert Hollman of Cannero Riviera (Italy) and Padova (Italy), and the schools that were involved in the research project.

Author Contributions

GB conceived of the Study 2, participated in its design and coordination, performed its measurement and helped to draft the manuscript; DB conceived of the Study 1 and participated in its design and coordination, performed its measurement and the statistical analysis of both studies, and drafted the manuscript; PM conceived of the Study 1, participated in its design and coordination, helped to perform the analyses and to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This study was carried out in accordance with the ethical recommendations of the Ethical Code of the Italian Psychologists Association. All subjects gave their written informed consent in accordance to the Declaration of Helsinki.

References

  1. Baron-Cohen, S., Leslie, A. M., & Frith, U. (1985). Does the autistic child have a “theory of mind”? Cognition, 21(1), 37–46.  https://doi.org/10.1016/0010-0277(85)90022-8.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  2. Bartoli, G., Soni, M., Montefusco, L., Lanners, J., Di Nunzio, S., & Cegalin, M. (2010). “Autistic like features” in blind children. The challenge of understanding their meaning in the development process. Poster presented at RNIB Conference ‘Children who have visual impairment and autism’, London (UK).Google Scholar
  3. Bedny, M., Pascual-Leone, A., & Saxe, R. R. (2009). Growing up blind does not change the neural bases of Theory of Mind. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(27), 11312–11317.  https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0900010106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Begeer, S., Dik, M., Asbrock, D., Brambring, M., & Kef, S. (2014). A new look at theory of mind in children with ocular and ocular-plus congenital blindness. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 108(1), 17–27.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0145482X1410800103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Blijd-Hoogewys, E., & van Geert, P. L. (2017). Non-linearities in theory-of-mind development. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1970.  https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01970.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  6. Blijd-Hoogewys, E. M. A., van Geert, P. L. C., Serra, M., & Minderaa, R. B. (2008). Measuring theory of mind in children: Psychometric properties of the tom storybooks. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38(10), 1907–1930.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-008-0585-3.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Brambring, M., & Asbrock, D. (2010). Validity of false belief tasks in blind children. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40(12), 1471–1484.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-010-1002-2.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Bulgarelli, D., & Molina, P. (2013). Teoria della Mente nei bambini con Disturbo Specifico di linguaggio: Una questione di competenza o di performance? [Theory of Mind in children with Specific Language Impairment: A matter of competence or performance?]. Giornale Italiano di Psicologia, 60(4), 761–784.  https://doi.org/10.1421/76946.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bulgarelli, D., Testa, S., & Molina, P. (2015). Factorial structure of the ‘ToM Storybooks’: A test evaluating multiple components of theory of mind. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 33(2), 187–202.  https://doi.org/10.1111/bjdp.12062.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Farrenkopf, C., & Davidson, I. F. W. K. (1992). The development of perspective-taking abilities in young blind children. RE: View, 24(1), 7–23.Google Scholar
  11. Flavell, J. H. (2004). Theory-of-mind development: Retrospect and prospect. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 50, 274–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fraiberg, S. (1977). Insights from the blind. Comparative studies of blind and sighted infants. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  13. Gergely, G., & Watson, J. S. (1996). The social biofeedback model of parental affect-mirroring. The International journal of psycho-analysis, 77(6), 1181.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Green, S., Pring, L., & Swettenham, J. (2004). An investigation of first-order false belief understanding of children with congenital profound visual impairment. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 22(1), 1–17.  https://doi.org/10.1348/026151004772901087.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hobson, R. P. (1990). On acquiring knowledge about people and the capacity to pretend: Response to Leslie (1987). Psychological Review, 97(1), 114–121.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.97.1.114.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Hobson, P. (2004). The cradle of thought: Exploring the origins of thinking. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Hughes, C., Adlam, A., Happé, F., Jackson, J., Taylor, A., & Caspi, A. (2000). Good test-retest reliability or standard and advanced false belief tasks across a wide range of abilities. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 41(4), 483–490.  https://doi.org/10.1111/1469-7610.00633.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Hughes, C., Devine, R. T., Ensor, R., Koyasu, M., Mizokawa, A., & Lecce, S. (2014). Lost in translation? Comparing British, Japanese, and Italian children’s theory-of-mind performance. Child Development Research, 2014, 1–10.  https://doi.org/10.1155/2014/893492.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Luteijn, E., Luteijn, F., Jackson, S., Volkmar, F., & Minderaa, R. B. (2000). The children’s social understanding questionnaire for milder variants of PDD problems: Evaluation of the psychometric characteristics. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 30(4), 317–330.  https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1005527300247.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. McAlpine, L. M., & Moore, C. L. (1995). The development of social understanding in children with visual impairments. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 89(4), 349–358.Google Scholar
  21. Milligan, K., Astington, J. W., & Dack, L. A. (2007). Language and theory of mind: Meta-analysis of the relation between language ability and false-belief understanding. Child Development, 78(2), 622–646.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2007.01018.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Minter, M., Hobson, R. P., & Bishop, M. (1998). Congenital visual impairment and ‘theory of mind’. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 16(2), 183–196.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-835X.1998.tb00918.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Mitchell, P. (1997). Introduction to theory of mind. children, autism and apes. London: Arnold.Google Scholar
  24. Molina, P., & Bulgarelli, D. (2012). La standardizzazione italiana del test ToM Storybooks: Dati preliminari [The Italian standardization of the test ToM Storybooks: Prelimanary data]. Giornale Italiano di Psicologia, 39(4), 863–880.  https://doi.org/10.1421/73146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Molina, P., Bulgarelli, D., Henning, A., & Aschersleben, G. (2014). Emotion nderstanding: A cross-cultural comparison between Italian and German preschoolers. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 11(5), 592–607.  https://doi.org/10.1080/17405629.2014.890585.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Molina, P., Bulgarelli, D., & Salomone, E. (2010). Discriminant validity of the ToM Storybooks and the TEC in an Italian sample of PDD children. Poster presented at the IX International Congress Autism Europe, Catania (I).Google Scholar
  27. Muris, P., Steerneman, P., Meesters, C., Merckelbach, H., Horselenberg, R., van den Hogen, T., et al. (1999). The TOM test: A new instrument for assessing theory of mind in normal children and children with pervasive developmental disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 29(1), 67–80.  https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1025922717020.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Perez-Pereira, M., & Conti-Ramsden, G. (1999). Language development and social interaction in blind children. Hove: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  29. Pérez-Pereira, M., & Conti-Ramsden, G. (2005). Do blind children show autistic features. In L. Pring (Ed.), Autism and blindness: Research and reflections (pp. 99–127). London: Whurr.Google Scholar
  30. Perner, J., & Wimmer, H. (1985). “John thinks that Mary thinks that…” attribution of second-order beliefs by 5-to 10-year-old children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 39(3), 437–471.  https://doi.org/10.1016/0022-0965(85)90051-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Perner, J., Leekam, S. R., & Wimmer, H. (1987). Three-year-olds’ difficulty with false belief: The case for a conceptual deficit. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 5, 125–137.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-835X.1987.tb01048.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Peterson, C. C. (2009). Development of social-cognitive and communication skills in children born deaf. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 50(5), 475–483.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9450.2009.00750.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Peterson, C. C., & Wellman, H. M. (2018). Longitudinal theory of mind (ToM) development from preschool to adolescence with and without ToM delay. Child Development.  https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.13064.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Peterson, C. C., Peterson, J. L., & Webb, J. (2000). Factors influencing the development of a theory of mind in blind children. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 18(3), 431–447.  https://doi.org/10.1348/026151000165788.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pijnacker, J., Vervloed, M. P., & Steenbergen, B. (2012). Pragmatic abilities in children with congenital visual impairment: An exploration of non-literal language and advanced theory of mind understanding. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 42(11), 2440–2449.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-012-1500-5.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  36. Roch-Levecq, A. C. (2006). Production of basic emotions by children with congenital blindness: Evidence for the embodiment of theory of mind. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 24(3), 507–528.  https://doi.org/10.1348/026151005X50663.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Scheeren, A. M., de Rosnay, M., Koot, H. M., & Begeer, S. (2013). Rethinking theory of mind in high-functioning autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 54(6), 628–635.  https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.12007.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Schopler, E., Reichler, R. J., DeVellis, R. F., & Daly, K. (1980). Toward objective classification of childhood autism: Childhood autism rating scale (CARS). Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 10(1), 91–103.  https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02408436.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Shields, J., Varley, R., Broks, P., & Simpson, A. (1996). Social cognition in developmental language disorders and high-level autism. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 38(6), 487–495.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-8749.1996.tb12109.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Sparrow, S. S., Balla, D. A., & Cicchetti, D. V. (1984). Vineland Adaptive Behaviour Scales. Circle Pines: American Guidance Services.Google Scholar
  41. Sullivan, K., Zaitchik, D., & Tager-Flusberg, H. (1994). Preschoolers can attribute second-order beliefs. Developmental Psychology, 30(3), 395–402.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.30.3.395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Swanson, H. L., & Luxenberg, D. (2009). Short-term memory and working memory in children with blindness: Support for a domain general or domain specific system? Child Neuropsychology, 15(3), 280–294.  https://doi.org/10.1080/09297040802524206.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Tadić, V., Pring, L., & Dale, N. (2010). Are language and social communication intact in children with congenital visual impairment at school age? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 51(6), 696–705.  https://doi.org/10.1348/026151008X310210.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Teller, D. Y., Dobson, V., & Mayer, D. L. (2005). Teller Acuity Cards II. TAC II. Handbook. Chicago: Stereo Optical Co., Inc.Google Scholar
  45. Thelen, E., & Smith, L. B. (1994). A dynamic systems approach to the development of cognition and action. Cambridge: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  46. van Geert, P. L. C. (2003). Dynamic Systems Approaches and Modeling of Developmental Processes. In J. Valsiner & K. J. Conolly (Eds.), Handbook of developmental psychology (pp. 640–672). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  47. Wechsler, D. (1967) Wechsler intelligence scale for children revised. New York, NY: Psychological Corporation. Trad It: Rubini, V., & Padovani, F. (1986) (Eds.) WISC-R Scala d’Intelligenza Wechsler per Bambini Riveduta. Firenze, I: Organizzazioni Speciali.Google Scholar
  48. Wellman, H. M. (1990). The child’s theory of mind. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  49. Wellman, H. M. (2018). Theory of mind: The state of the art. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 15, 1–28.  https://doi.org/10.1080/17405629.2018.1435413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Wellman, H. M., Cross, D., & Watson, J. (2001). Meta-analysis of theory-of-mind development: The truth about false belief. Child Development, 72(3), 655–684.  https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8624.00304.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Wellman, H. M., Fang, F., & Peterson, C. C. (2011). Sequential progressions in a theory-of-mind scale: Longitudinal perspectives. Child Development, 82(3), 780–792.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01583.x/.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  52. Williams, M. E., Fink, C., Zamora, I., & Borchert, M. (2014). Autism assessment in children with optic nerve hypoplasia and other vision impairments. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 56(1), 66–72.  https://doi.org/10.1111/dmcn.12264.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Wimmer, H., & Perner, J. (1983). Beliefs about beliefs: Representation and constraining function of wrong beliefs in young children’s understanding and deception. Cognition, 13(1), 103–128.  https://doi.org/10.1016/0010-0277(83)90004-5.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. Yirmiya, N., Erel, O., Shaked, M., & Solomonica-Levi, D. (1998). Meta-analyses comparing theory of mind abilities of individuals with autism, individuals with mental retardation, and normally developing individuals. Psychological Bulletin, 124(3), 283–307.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.124.3.283.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di PsicologiaUniversità degli Studi di PaviaPaviaItaly
  2. 2.Fondazione Robert HollmanCannero RivieraItaly
  3. 3.CAMHS: Child and Adolescent Mental Health ServiceADHB, Auckland District Health Board, and Private Practice in AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  4. 4.Università degli Studi di TorinoDipartimento di PsicologiaTurinItaly

Personalised recommendations