nl en

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


Admission requirements

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). 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.


(A)typical Emotional Development: Autism, Deafness and Somatisation (2012-2013):

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 solely on giving a presentation in power point and on deciding which topics will be presented during the course and by whom. The remaining 6 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), students who will give a presentation during a particular session are required to search for additional literature concerning their topic of interest.

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 through blackboard (30%)

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

From January 1, 2006 the Faculty of Social Sciences has instituted the Ephorus system to be used by instructors for the systematic detection of plagiarism in students’ written work. Please see the information concerning fraud .


Information on

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. (in druk). 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 will be available on Blackboard. Students will be required to find additional articles to prepare their presentation and to write their essay.

Contact information

Mw. prof. dr. Carolien Rieffe
Room 3B47A
Tel: +31 (0)71 527 3674