chapter  3
Social interaction, the beginnings of communication, and the development of a theory of mind
Pages 22

This chapter is comprised of two sections. In the first section we review research on sighted and blind infants' early social and communicative development. By way of an introduction we discuss the development of social interaction, the development of the self, and the beginnings of communication in young children without visual deficits . We contrast this information with what we know about congenitally blind children. Particular attention is paid to two different points of view. The first suggests that blind children have severe deficits in social interaction and early communication, which are similar to those presented by children with autism. The second argues that blind children and their parents develop alternative forms of social interaction and early communication, which are able to provide different routes for the development of the child as a social, communicative being. We emphasize the crucial compensatory role that language plays in blind children's development and we argue that through learning and use of linguistic symbols blind infants begin to understand persons as intentional agents.