Miller – Does it?

Lack of vocabulary to talk about mental states may limit children’s theory of mind development and communication.

(Miller 149)


Is this statement true?  How is it that a child who lacks OUR vocabulary is limited that child’s theory of mind?  Let me put it another way that is not a question.  Theory of Mind (ToM) uses the assumption that if we cannot measure the child’s theory of mind through some form of our language (be it written or spoken), that child does not have a theory of mind.

That means that anyone who does not use language in the way the dominant culture expects (i.e. vocabulary) does not have a theory of mind.  How does this work?  How is this at all okay?

It is not okay because we are assessing people who use language differently from us and saying they do not have a theory of mind because they don’t use language like we expect them to.  Imagine for a moment, that autistic children have a language of their own, whether it is verbal or not, they have a language and they are trying to communicate in some way.  Just because that child doesn’t use language like us, we assume they lack a theory of mind.

This was a rant if I ever heard/read/saw/whatever one.


Miller, Carol. “Developmental Relationships between Language and Theory of Mind.” American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology 15.2 (May 2006): 142-154. Ebsco. Web. 26 March 2015.

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