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Title: Interpersonal relatedness, social understanding and symbolic play in congenitally blind children
Author: Bishop, Martin
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 1997
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This project was a preliminary attempt to investigate certain aspects of congenitally blind children's social functioning, prompted by clinical findings that some blind children show particular impairments in this area. The purpose was to explore the hypothesis that limits placed by congenital blindness on the quality of social interaction for some blind children have implications for the development of their social understanding - as shown through their comprehension of 'mental' concepts and symbolic play - independent of their more general cognitive abilities. From a sample of four-to nine-year-old blind children, who did not have other demonstrable physical or neurological disabilities, two sub-groups were constituted, who were judged by teachers to be more, or less, able in everyday interpersonal relating. The groups were matched, along with a group of sighted children, for age and IQ. These groups were compared across a series of three studies, involving (i) observations of children in free-play situations with their peers, applying novel scales of behaviour rating; (ii) comprehension tests of children's understanding of the distinction between 'mental' processes and reality, using adaptations of established tests; (iii) semi-structured sessions of symbolic play, rated according to the physical and symbolic 'anchorage' of the play and qualities of narrative and role play. The studies established that blindness per se is not an impediment to development of social understanding, in that the blind children most able in their everyday social relating performed without significant differences from the sighted comparison group on (studies ii and iii). There was suggestive evidence that those children who showed poorer peer-relations (study i) were also impaired in aspects of their social understanding, shown through symbolic play (study iii), though not in their explicit conceptual understanding of 'mental' processes (study ii). These findings were considered with a view to highlighting their relevance for understanding the psychological development of both blind and sighted children, particularly with regard to how they develop in their understanding of themselves and other people.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Psychology