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Nesayan A, Asadi Gandomani R, Pahlavan Mazar H. Comparison of Theory of Mind in Children with Intellectual Disability and Preschool and Its Relation with Social Maturity. MEJDS. 2016; 6 :105-111
URL: http://jdisabilstud.ir/article-1-576-en.html

1- Assistant Professor University of Bojnord
2- Assistance Professor University of Bojnord
3- MA Gonabad
Abstract:   (3933 Views)

Background: Today psychological researchers consider a very important aspect of cognitive development of children which is called social cognition. One of the aspects of social cognition is the Theory of Mind. Theory of mind is a process through which children understand their social world. Theory of mind is a developmental achievement that emerges in the early stages of life and continues to develop during adolescence and adulthood. Theory of mind refers to the attribution ability of mental state to oneself and others in order to explain behaviors. Theory of mind includes the understanding that individuals could have on different mental states such as desires, feelings, or knowledge about the same object reality. There are two perspectives on the development of theory of mind. The first perspective holds that development of theory of mind is discontinuous for which three levels has been identified. Another perspective considers theory of mind as a continuous process. Social factors such as cultural practice, family context, and interactional and pedagogical experience, all relate to the process of gaining insight into people’s mental world. Research in this regard shows that false belief tasks (tasks used to measure children's theory of mind is positively associated with good social behavior. In fact, the proper functioning in theory of mind promotes social competence, while weak theory of mind can be a threat for social development. Intellectual disability is characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning (reasoning, learning, problem solving, planning and abstract thinking) and in adaptive behavior. Intellectual disability begins to manifest before the age of 18 (Development period). Adaptive behavior includes conceptual, practical and social skills that everyone should learn to perform normally in daily living activities. Limitation in social skills is the central characteristic in intellectual disability. people with intellectual disability usually have social difficulty such as communicating, understanding social rules, understanding cause and effect for everyday events, social functions problems, reacting and interacting in appropriate ways based on their age. These children often lose the opportunity to develop friendly relations with peers. Impairment in social skills can have long-term effects on the lives of people with intellectual disability. The defect in the theory of mind can be linked to social problems and lack of understanding social situations. Thus, the aim of this study is to compare the theory of mind in children suffering from intellectual disability and those passing the first year of primary school and its relationship with social maturity.

Methods: This study is an Ex post facto research. Ex post facto method is a Quantitative research comparing people with behavioral or personal characteristics with those lacking such characteristics in order to explore potential causes and effects of the variables.  The research population consisted of all intellectual disability children and primary school children in Gonabad city. Our sample also consisted of 30 children with intellectual disability who were selected through convenience sampling and census method and sample of primary school children consisted of 30 children were selected by a random sampling. For data collection, Vineland Social Maturity Scale and Theory of Mind Test were used. Vineland Social Maturity Scale was completed by parents and Theory of Mind Test was conducted individually on each child by the experimenter. To analyze the data t-test and Pearson's correlation coefficient was used.

Results: The results showed that in the first, third and total level of theory of mind, primary school children  had better performance compared with children  suffering from intellectual disability which was statistically significant (p<0.05).However, on the second level of theory of mind there was no significant difference between children with intellectual disability and primary school children (p>0.05). Also, the results showed that there was no significant relationship between the theory of mind and social maturity (p>0.05).

Conclusion: According to the findings of this study, it can be concluded that the theory of mind (TOM) in children with intellectual disability is worse than the normal children, thus Educators and therapists should consider these defects while working with intellectually disabled children. Also, based on obtained results, it can be concluded that the theory of mind is not a sufficient condition to achieve social maturity and other factors must be examined in this context.

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Type of Study: Original Research Article | Subject: Rehabilitation
Received: 2015/09/21 | Accepted: 2016/01/10

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