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(A)typical Emotional Development: Autism, Deafness and Somatisation


Important Note

  • All Semester II bachelor and master psychology courses and examinations (2020-2021) will be offered in an on-line format.

  • If it is safe and possible to do so, supplementary course meetings may be planned on-campus. However, attendance at these meetings will not be required to successfully complete Semester II courses.

  • All obligatory work groups and examinations will be offered on-line during Central European Time, which is local time in the Netherlands.

  • Information on the mode of instruction and the assessment method per course will be offered in Brightspace, considering the possibilities that are available at that moment. The information in Brightspace is leading during the Corona crisis, even if this does not match the information in the Prospectus.

Entry requirements

Open to MSc Psychology (research) students


Emotional competence is an important factor in children’s daily functioning, which affects all other aspects in their development. For example, children with a good understanding of other people’s emotions, or who are well skilled in expressing their own emotions, without being offensive, develop better peer-relationships and are more popular within their peer-group. Or children, who suffer from depression or other internalizing disorders, tend to have poor coping skills and worry more, which negatively affects their academic performances. Children may follow different pathways in their emotional development for numerous reasons. Variation in developmental patterns can occur as a result of cognitive difficulties, neurological problems, physical impairments, and so on, which often result in limited developmental experiences and also affect children’s emotional development. Vice versa, impairments in the emotional domain will influence other aspects of children’s functioning or mental health. The focus of this module – typical and atypical emotional development – will be approached in two ways. First, this course aims to provide an advanced analysis of the nature of two disorders (Autism and Deafness) with respect to its effect on these children’s emotional functioning (Theory of Mind, emotion awareness, emotion expression, coping, empathy). Second, we will also examine how a qualitative different emotional development may contribute to or protect from co-morbidity (e.g. depression, anxiety, aggression) in these two groups. This will provide understanding of these special groups on the one hand, but studying these atypical groups also increases our knowledge about typical emotional development, for example it reveals protective and risk factors.

Course objectives

  • Gaining in-depth theoretical knowledge about emotional development based on current emotion theories;

  • Gaining more insight into the possible factors that affect the process of emotion socialisation and the effect of poor emotional competence on psychopathology;

  • Critical reading of current research in emotional development concerning children with autism and deaf children and trying to discuss this within a theoretical framework;

  • Expressing own ideas on existing theoretical frameworks in the light of new developments verbally during the group discussions, and in written form in an essay.


For the timetables of your lectures, work groups and exams, please select your study programme in: Psychology timetables




Students need to enroll for lectures and work group sessions. Master’s course registration


Students are not automatically enrolled for an examination. They can register via uSis from 100 to 10 calendar days before the date. Students who are not registered will not be permitted to take the examination. Registering for exams

Mode of instruction

Seven (7) 2-hour sessions (weekly), each addressing one of the themes, based on recent empirical publications. The first session will concentrate on giving a presentation in power point and on deciding which topics will be presented during the course and by whom. Six sessions will contain student presentations and group discussions regarding a specific theme. Students are expected to prepare each session by reading the listed papers (available via email and facebook), students who will give a presentation during a particular session are required to search for additional literature concerning their topic of interest. Groupdiscussions to prepare each session will be held using facebook. Second, students will receive feedback in an individual tutorial 1) on their powerpoint presentation; 2) on their research question for their essay; 3) on the structure of the essay; 4) and on the line of argumentation in this essay.

Assessment method

Assessment of the module is based on:

  • Preparation and presentation (in power point) of a topic for group-discussion, concerning a theme that can be chosen from the 5 themes that will be made available by email and discussed in the first group meeting (30%)

  • An essay that provides a critical analysis of a research area, related to one of the topics offered in the course (70%).

The Institute of Psychology follows the policy of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences to systematically check student papers for plagiarism with the help of software. Disciplinary measures will be taken when fraud is detected. Students are expected to be familiar with and understand the implications of this fraud policy.

Reading list

  • Bauminger, N., & Kasari, C. (2000). Loneliness and friendship in high-functioning children with autism. Child Development, 71, 447-456.

  • Berndt, T. J. (2002). Friendship quality and social development. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 11, 7-10.

  • Cappadocia, M. C., Weiss, J. A., & Pepler, D. (2012). Bullying Experiences Among Children and Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 42, 266-277.

  • Carrington, S., Templeton, E., & Papinczak, T. (2003). Adolescents with Asperger Syndrome and perceptions on friendship. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 18.

  • Kim, J. A., Szatmari, P., Bryson, S. E., Streiner, D. L., & Wilson, F. J. (2000). The prevalence of anxiety and mood problems among children with autism and Asperger Syndrome. Autism, 4, 117/132.

  • Klomek, A. B., Marrocco, F., Kleinman, M., Schonfeld, I. S., & Gould, M. S. (2007). Bullying, depression, and suicidality in adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 46, 40-49.

  • Konuk, N., Erdogan, A., Atik, L., Ugur, M. B., & Simsekyilmaz, O. (2006). Evaluation of behavioral and emotional problems in deaf children by using the child behavior checklist. Neurology Psychiatry and Brain Research, 13(2), 59-64.

  • Kouwenberg, M., Rieffe, C., & Theunissen, S.C.P.M. (in druk). Intrapersonal and interpersonal factors related to self-reported symptoms of depression in DHH youth. International Journal on Mental Health & Deafness.

  • La Greca, A. M., & Harrison, H. M. (2005). Adolescent peer relations, friendships, and romantic relationships: Do they predict social anxiety and depression? Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 34, 49-61.

  • Laurent, A. C., & Rubin, E. (2004). Challenges in emotional regulation in Asperger syndrome and high-functioning autism. Topics in Language Disorders, 24, 286-297.

  • Magnuson, K. M., & Constantino, J. N. (2011). Characterization of Depression in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 32, 332-340.

  • Matson, J. L., & Nebel-Schwalm, M. S. (2007). Comorbid psychopathology with autism spectrum disorder in children: An overview. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 28, 341-352.

  • Meerum Terwogt, M., & Rieffe, C. (2004). Behavioural problems in deaf children: Theory of mind delay or communication failure? European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 1(3), 231-240.

  • Rieffe, C. (2012). Awareness and regulation of emotions in deaf children. British Journal of Developmental Psychology.

  • Theunissen, S.C.P.M., Rieffe, C., Kouwenberg, M., Soede, W., Briaire, J.J., & Frijns, J.H.M. (2011). Depression in hearing-impaired children. International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology, 75(10), 1313-1317.

  • Van Gent, T., Goedhart, A., Hindley, P., & Treffers, P.D.A. (2007). Prevalence and correlates of psychopathology in a sample of deaf adolescents. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 48(9), 950-958.

The compulsory articles to prepare for this course in advance will be available via our website Students will be required to find additional articles to prepare their presentation and to write their essay. These articles will be shared and discussed previously to each session through facebook.

Contact information

Mw. prof. dr. Carolien Rieffe