Dr. Jenny Gibson

Jenny is an assistant professor in Psychology and Education at the University of Cambridge, UK. Jenny leads a team investigating the role of play in children’s linguistic, social and emotional development at the centre for research on Play in Education, Development and Learning (PEDAL). Jenny completed her PhD in 2011 at the University of Manchester and went on to do postdoctoral research in the Developmental Psychiatry group at University of Cambridge. Jenny is a member of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists and her research is focused on children with autism and developmental language disorders.

"When Life Gives You Lemons" - prototype computer game for autistic girls

September 3rd, 2021

claudia master defense

August 30th, Claudia Libbi (University of Twente) publicly (online) presented and defended her master project “When Life Gives You Lemons". In this project, Claudia designed a prototype of a computer game to support autistic girls (10-16 years old) in thinking about and practicing daily-life social interactions with peers. Every step of its development was done in co-design with autistic girls, who could inform Claudia from first-hand experiences about their daily issues and dilemmas, feeding directly into the game. The prototype was well-received, both by the stakeholders, the autistic girls, and the audience present at the defense.

Are you interested to know more about the prototype of this game? Watch the video on youtube

Are you curious about the techniques behind the scene? Check out Claudia's Github


Emojis in daily chats

August 16th, 2021

Who doesn’t know them, emojis in WhatsApp conversations? But how do teenagers use these? And what about autistic teens? Our new intern, João Pereira Batista (see photo) is using his summer holiday to adapt various tasks into an online design that can test emoji-skills in teenagers as soon as the new academic year will start again. The study was originally initiated and designed some time ago by master student Jonna van der Velde. (Click to view webpage)




More deaf or hard of hearing children participate in Portugal

July 19th, 2021

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After a mandatory pause due to the pandemic, testing has begun again in Portugal. Through close and active collaboration with Dr. Herédio Sousa (Hospital Dona Estefânia) and Dra. Luísa Monteiro (Hospital Lusíadas Lisboa), it was possible to select more children at the ENT departments who meet the criteria to participate in our project on social inclusion at the playground. Many parents were enthusiastic to participate with their deaf or hard-of-hearing child. Soon, PhD student Brenda who coordinates this project in Portugal will start testing again.


2nd Webinar on Chinese deaf or hard-of-hearing children

June 21st, 2021

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On June 18th, the 2nd webinar (click here to read about the 1st webinar) was successfully held between the Focus on Emotions Lab and the China Rehabilitation Research Center for Hearing and Speech Impairment (CRRCHSI). This was a bilingual webinar given in both English and Chinese. Since the completion of the 2nd wave of data collection in March, the centre was eager to discuss current outcomes, future collaboration, and the utility of the social emotional testing battery. 

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Recent & Upcoming Events

August 30th, 11 am CET: Claudia Libbi public MsC defense

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On August 30th, 11.00 am, Claudia Libbi (University of Twente) will publicly present and defend her master project! Aim of the project was to design a prototype of an applied computer game in which autistic teenage girls can practice and reflect on their day-to-day interactions with peers. Central in this process was the role of co-design, in fact, the autistic girls added to its content and development in close collab with Claudia.

To join the presentation click here .

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June 18th 2021, 10.00-12.00 CET: 2nd Webinar for Chinese DHH Children's Social-Emotional Development (听损儿童社会情绪机能与发展)


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April 15th: Kids First Congress

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Play in Portuguese preschool children with hearing loss

March 26th, 2021


March 25, Brenda presented at the International Congress of Early Childhood Outdoor Practices on play in Portuguese preschool children with hearing loss in mainstream or special schools. 

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Social Inclusion Workshop

March 19th, 2021

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March 19th, at the 20th National Autism Congress, Carolien presented a workshop on social inclusion for pupils with autism. Focus was on issues that pupils with autism had identified during focus group meetings. Their input is essential in developing “autism-welcome” schools.

Welcome to our new PhD candidate Jiayin Zhao

February 17th, 2021

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Jiayin received her China Government Scholarship (CSC) in 2020 and started in our lab January 2021. She will be under the supervision of Carolien and Boya. Jiayin’s thesis focuses on social-emotional functioning in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Congratulations Jiayin and welcome.

Who are we?

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Our team is located at the department of Developmental Psychology of Leiden University and at the Human Media Interaction at the technical University of Twente, both in the Netherlands. We work in close collaboration with the ENT department of the Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC), the mental health organisations INTER-PSY (Groningen) and Curium-LUMC, the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS), and TU Delft. Our group is dedicated to examining the development of emotional intelligence of children and adolescents from a very young age; with a strong focus on its impact on children's social development. Besides typically developing children and adolescents, we are interested in the development of those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing (DHH), with autism, or with a Developmental Language Disorder (DLD). Currently, we have an ongoing project on social inclusion at schools that utilises sensor technology with DHH and autistic children. Since 2017, our team has also been working in close collaboration with a centre for DHH children in China.

On this site we will post regular news items about new publications, events, and other important news. You can also read more about our ongoing projects, read about/download questionnaires we have developed, peruse the list of our publications per topic, or learn about opportunities for students to join our team.