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Title: Exploring the development of theory of mind in children with Down's syndrome
Author: Dix, Lucy Elodie
ISNI:       0000 0004 5918 6292
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2016
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This study examines the development of theory of mind in children with Down’s syndrome between the ages of 2 and 9. Children were assessed in 3 age groups: group 1 = age 2/3 (n=15), group 2 = ages 4/5 (n=9) and group 3 = ages 7/9 (n=15). A range of assessments were used to examine the precursors of and development of theory of mind skills: semi-structured play tasks with groups 1 and 2 and a range of established and novel theory of mind tasks with group 3. Groups 2 and 3 also undertook a language comprehension assessment which has also been considered in terms of its reliability for this group of children. A mixed methods approach to data collection and analysis allowed for both quantitative and qualitative data to be reported. Results show that children with Down’s syndrome develop their theory of mind at a slow pace and through potentially different mechanisms than seen in the typically developing population. Development may be constrained by a range of factors; joint attention, inhibitory control, working memory, foundational knowledge schemas and representational ability. This study showed that children with Down’s syndrome display features of theory of mind development in social situations in advance of passing theory of mind tasks and they were likely to use increasingly sophisticated social means to reject or modify a task. The findings from this study are considered with attention to a neuroconstructivist approach and are framed within the discourse of disability rights. Particular consideration is given to the application of the findings in relation to building an equitable education system for individuals with cognitive variance. Practical suggestions are outlined to encourage practitioners to acknowledge and support this essential area of a child’s development and the application of findings are discussed in terms of other groups of children who may benefit from similar support.
Supervisor: Clarke, Paula ; Chambers, Mary Sponsor: Frank Stell Scholarship
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available