Developmental Language Disorder


Children with DLD aged 1-5  
Children with DLD aged 9-15
News Archive


What happens when you are angry but cannot find the words to express yourself? Children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD; formerly called Language Impairment) have trouble communicating. This affects the way they feel about themselves and their social relations. In two longitudinal research projects we aim to give an overview of the emotional and social development of children with DLD. With this knowledge we will develop an instrument for professionals to measure specific areas of the social and emotional functioning of children with DLD. The projects are in close collaboration with the NSDSK and Kentalis Academy.    


Social-emotional functioning in children with DLD aged 1-5  

Children learn to understand and regulate their emotions through contact with their parents and peers. In the first years of life language becomes increasingly important in this interaction. When children have a severe language problem their emotional and social growth is affected from an early age on. In close collaboration with the NSDSK we are doing research on the first years of life of children with SLI. We try to understand which areas of the development are affected by the communicational problems and how they relate to each other. Important subjects are the understanding of own and others emotions, empathic behaviour and Theory of Mind.  

Researchers involved: Rosanne van der Zee, Karin Wiefferink and Carolien Rieffe    


Social-emotional functioning in children with DLD aged 9-15  

Children in early adolescence spend most of their social time chatting with their peers. For children with SLI the communicative difficulties increase during late childhood. How does this affect the way they feel about themselves? Do they manage to have good quality friendships, or are they being bullied? Thanks to funding of Nuts Ohra we are trying to answer these questions. The research is conducted in close collaboration with Kentalis Academy and the NSDSK.  

Researchers involved: Neeltje van den Bedem, Petra van Alphen and Carolien Rieffe


News Archive Developmental Language Disorder

Data collection completed


What are the longitudinal effects of a Developmental Language Disorder (the new consensus name for Language Impairment) on social-emotional functioning of children and adolescents? And when are children with DLD vulnerable for the development of psychopathology? A total of 152 children with DLD or a combined diagnosis of DLD and Autism Spectrum Disorder were followed up in their social-emotional development over the course of 2.5 years. Finally, all data are collected and we can make a start to answer these important questions.

Meeting at UCL on Language Impairment

JulieDockrell Neeltje UCL

By the end of October 2016, Carolien and Neeltje visited University College London, where they met with a renowned expert on children with Language Impairments (LI), Professor Julie Dockrell. Julie, also being co-supervisor on Neeltje’s PhD project, raised some interesting issues for discussion, e.g. how language pragmatics and language form could have a differential effect on LI adolescents’ social functioning. Neeltje highly values this international collaboration for her work on youth with LI.


Emotion understanding at the ISSBD in Vilnius


The 24th Biennial Meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development (ISSBD) was this year (July) held in Vilnius. Maria von Salish had organized a symposium on the impact of emotion understanding on adolescents’ mental health, with Susanne Denham as discussant. Both Neeltje and Evelien (B) presented their recent findings. Neeltje discussed how difficulties in understanding emotions is related to more depressive symptoms in adolescents with language impairments, whereas Evelien discussed the importance of moral emotions in adolescents with a hearing loss.


Elina HarjunenInterview with Elina

What is your position in the FOE-team?
I am a psychology master student from the University of Helsinki and came here to do a research internship. I am assisting Neeltje with her project on SLI children’s social-emotional development. I will get to know the literature and assist with Neeltje’s upcoming research paper.
Why did you choose to come to work with FOE team?
I have always been interested in developmental psychology. I became more interested in language development while I was assisting in a research project regarding music and children’s language development. Inspired by the subject, I applied and was accepted for a 5-months internship at the Speech and Voice Clinic  in Helsinki for Autumn 2016. Which increased my enthusiasm even more! I was informed that my internship workplace treats children with SLI. So that’s why SLI immediately caught my eye when I was browsing the FOE team’s website. 
What will you get from the internship?
I hope to get a broad theoretical knowledge of the literature regarding SLI children’s social-emotional development. This will be a huge advantage for me as a psychologist intern at the Speech and Voice Clinic. Without the work here my knowledge about the subject would be limited to only one lecture that I had during my studies in Finland. Besides, I am now also following closely the process of writing an article. I am quite sure I will continue my studies after graduation. Whether that is to become a PhD or specialized psychologist, I don’t know yet. But I am sure that this internship gives me a very good starting point for the future to publish my own articles. And that is why I am really grateful to be here.
How does it feel to live in Leiden?
Life in the Netherlands is surprisingly similar to how it is in Finland. I guess the Finnish mentality fits well with the Dutch way of life! What I like in Leiden, is how the history is present all over, and how unique atmosphere the city has. Also, people have been really nice and welcoming and they don’t mind at all chatting in English. But most of all, I love cycling! Even though I also ride a bike at home, cycling is much more practical and so much easier here. That’s something we should learn from. And the rain... well I’ve decided that it’s just a question of attitude! :)