Development of social-cognitive and communication skills in children born deaf


Professor C. C. Peterson, PhD, School of Psychology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 4072. Fax: 617-3365-4466; e-mail:


Central to the interface of social-cognitive and communicative development is the growth of a theory of mind (ToM). ToM is mastered by most hearing children and deaf children of signing deaf parents by the age of 5 or 6 but is often seriously delayed in deaf children of hearing parents. This paper reviews recently published research on deaf children’s ToM development and presents an original study consisting of eight longitudinal case histories that collectively map late-signing deaf children’s ToM performance from 44 to 158 months of age. While five tentative conclusions can be posited from the collective research so far, further investigation of each of these possibilities is clearly needed.