How children with normal hearing and children with a cochlear implant use mentalizing vocabulary and other evaluative expressions in their narratives
This study explored the use of mental state and emotion terms and other evaluative expressions in the story generation of 65 children (aged 2–8 years) with normal hearing (NH) and 11 children (aged 3–7 years) using a cochlear implant (CI). Children generated stories on the basis of sets of sequential pictures. The stories of the children with CI were obtained over the 5-year follow-up period. The children with NH continued to show an increased story length (number of words) with age. In the children with a CI, the increase was similar initially, but plateaued after 3 years of using a CI. In children with NH, the spontaneous use of mental state vocabulary in narratives increased significantly between the ages of three and six. The delayed use of mental state terms in the children with a CI was related to a reduced amount of linguistic production overall. The theoretical and clinical implications were discussed.