Jumping to conclusions: Children with LI need a theory of mind to understand idioms

Birgitta Sahlén, Christina Reuterskiöld Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Happé (Cognition 1993; 48: 101-19) showed that idiom understanding was linked to theory of mind in children with autism. We studied the relationship between the understanding of idioms and first order theory of mind in 26 children, aged 5.1-6.4 years, with language impairment (LI). Theory of mind was assessed by 'droodles'. Idiom understanding was assessed by videotaped sequences in which idioms were used. The children were asked to paraphrase the idiom (definition task) and were also given a recognition task (forced-choice). We found a correlation between theory of mind and the understanding of idioms. Further, idiom definition correlated to most language comprehension measures, whereas idiom recognition only correlated to vocabulary comprehension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-65
Number of pages11
JournalLogopedics Phoniatrics Vocology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999


  • Idiom understanding
  • Language impairment
  • Theory of mind

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Speech and Hearing
  • LPN and LVN


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