Presentation Title

Adverse Childhood Experiences and Theory of Mind: A Literature Review

Project Collaborators

Tiffany L. Hutchins, Ph.D. (Faculty Mentor)

Abstract

This research examines the links between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and impairments in domains of theory of mind (ToM). ToM, the ability to understand the mental state of oneself and others, is a complex and multifaceted construct with a developmental progression. Research has demonstrated that the nature of children’s language learning environments is related to the quality of their ToM development. In addition, there is literature examining the effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and ToM, yet not much is known about the nature and degree of ToM challenges in this population. A literature review was conducted to clarify the link between ACEs and ToM, identify which ToM domains are disrupted, and explore implications for speech-language pathologists working with children and adolescents with ACEs. The results suggest broad ToM impairments across the developmental domains, including skills in early empathy, false belief understanding, and emotion recognition, and illuminate areas where research is needed. When working with children with ACEs, speech-language pathologists can collaborate with mental health professionals to strengthen these areas of deficit in the context of personal narratives.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Tiffany L. Hutchins, Ph.D.

Status

Graduate

Student College

College of Nursing and Health Sciences

Program/Major

Communication Sciences and Disorders

Primary Research Category

Social Sciences

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Adverse Childhood Experiences and Theory of Mind: A Literature Review

This research examines the links between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and impairments in domains of theory of mind (ToM). ToM, the ability to understand the mental state of oneself and others, is a complex and multifaceted construct with a developmental progression. Research has demonstrated that the nature of children’s language learning environments is related to the quality of their ToM development. In addition, there is literature examining the effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and ToM, yet not much is known about the nature and degree of ToM challenges in this population. A literature review was conducted to clarify the link between ACEs and ToM, identify which ToM domains are disrupted, and explore implications for speech-language pathologists working with children and adolescents with ACEs. The results suggest broad ToM impairments across the developmental domains, including skills in early empathy, false belief understanding, and emotion recognition, and illuminate areas where research is needed. When working with children with ACEs, speech-language pathologists can collaborate with mental health professionals to strengthen these areas of deficit in the context of personal narratives.