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


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.


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



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.


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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

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