Ad van den Broek, Brian Twint, Jac de Bruijn, Jolanda Vonk

Emotional Development and Intellectual Disability


A guide to understanding emotional development and its implications for practice



Emotional Development and Intellectual Disability: A guide to understanding emotional development and its implications for practice recognises the complexity and importance of emotions and emotional development in the needs and lives of people with intellectual disabilities (learning disabilities), and in their care and support. The book combines research, assessment and practice by a team of experts and advisers in the field. This collaboration facilitates for an exploration of this complex topic from a number of positive perspectives, including, emotional development as an adaptive behaviour, as a support need, and as a quality of life domain. With insights into the intertwined connection between the emotions and the brain, the book systematically sets out theoretical frameworks, themes of emotional development, diagnostics and support, before considering whether it is possible to provide an integrative model as a basis for theory, everyday practice and research.  Emotional Development and Intellectual Disability: A guide to understanding emotional development and its implications for practice is relevant to everyone working in the field of intellectual disability as a key reference for practice, education, policy-making and research.

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Jac de Bruijn is an independent consultant for healthcare and society with more than 30 years of experience in healthcare, especially for people with a disability. He is a former member of the Board of Directors of Stichting Prisma and was previously head of treatment and a mental health psychologist. He worked as a lecturer at the Erasmus Medical Center, and  is now affiliated as a guest lecturer. He published several books together with others and specialises in methods and interventions for people with intellectual disability. He is passionate about inclusion, inclusive research and ethics of care.

Jolanda Vonk studied educational science at the Free University of Amsterdam (VU, cum laude). She works as a senior behavioral scientist at ORO/Lore in the Netherlands. She has worked in the field of people with ID for more than 30 years as a healthcare psychologist, remedial educationalist, sexologist, supervisor and coach. Jolanda also works as a consultant for the Centre of Expertise and Consultation (CCE), a national organization in the Netherlands that is deployed on demand for complex problems of people with intellectual disability or mental health problems.

Ad van den Broek has worked as a healthcare psychologist in the care of people with intellectual  disabilities. Today he works at FORTIOR, which he founded in 2006 and for which he is now responsible together with Catja van den Broek. His interest is mainly in the emotional and personality development in the context of the developmental dynamic model and in methods in the field of relationship, contact. communication and support.

Brian Twint studied social work at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences and after a period in youth services has been working for years as a personal supervisor and project leader in the field of intellectual disability. Twint is the original designer of the ‘Affectief Bewuste Benadering’ (Affective Conscious Approach), initiator of the Expertise Centre Intellectual Disability in the Netherlands, and author of several books about and for people with intellectual disabilities.


To be published by Pavilion Publishing and Media Ltd in July 2021

ISBN: 9781914010583


Part I Theoretical frameworks

  1. Emotional development and intellectual disability: introduction to a dynamic concept
  2. Neurobiological aspects of emotional development
  3. Seven stages of emotional development, from birth to adulthood
  4. Emotional development, stress and adaptation
  5. The relationship between cognition and emotion in people with an intellectual disability: a neurocognitive approach

Part II Themes of emotional development

  1. Development of emotion regulation and the role of the attachment relationship
  2. Emotional Development in Autism Spectrum Disorders
  3. Sexual and emotional development in people with intellectual disabilities
  4. Emotional development and mental health disorders
  5. The systematic and family approach in relation to emotional development and intellectual disability

Part III Diagnostics and support

  1. Emotional development and assessment in persons with an intellectual disability
  2. The Scale of Emotional Development – Short
  3. Scale for Emotional Development for people with intellectual disabilities (SED-R2) and translation into (treatment and) support
  4. The SED-R² Colour Profile
  5. What works?! Cross-fertilisation between forensic psychiatry and care for people with mild intellectual disabilities
  6. Emotional development and methodical support for people with intellectual disabilities
  7. The importance of social relationships for persons with an intellectual disability: emotion regulation and how ICT can support parents and caregiver
  8. Working with a disorganised attached child: Individual child psychotherapy embedded within a mentalising network.
  9. The wire between client and caregiver. A metaphor on emotional and social development

Part IV Review

  1. Epilogue: a constructive description of emotional development
  2. Closure statements Advisory Board

1 review for Emotional Development and Intellectual Disability

  1. Oili Sauna-aho, PhD, Clinical Neuropsychologist, Director of Expert and Developmental Services KTO, Support and Expert Center for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities, Paimio, Finland

    The book “Emotional Development and Intellectual Disability – A guide to understanding emotional development and its implications” gives a thorough description about what emotional development means and why it is important to us working in the field of intellectual disabilities (ID). The book gives a new and an inspiring perspective to understand and support persons with ID.

    Emotional development is not a new concept, but it has not been a central interest within the practice of ID. The professionals used to assess intellectual and adaptive abilities of the person with ID, but when the person has challenging behaviour or challenging situations in daily life this is often not enough. Looking at the emotional development gives a new and positive perspective to understanding challenging behaviour and tools to improve the life of the person with ID and their caregivers.

      • The seven stages of emotional development and two different scales to assess it (SEO-R2 and SED-S) are introduced in the book. Dutch child psychiatrist Anton Došen has had a significant role to bring this concept into practice. The theoretical framework is based on well-known theories of a child’s psychological development by Freud, Mahler, Erikson, Bowler and Stern. In the book there are also many interesting and important themes e.g. autism spectrum, sexual development, the role of attachment, forensic psychiatry and their connections to emotional development and ID. The writers of the book are all well-known scientists and professionals in the field, and the articles are easy to read even though they contain a lot of scientific information.

        The book describes practical methods to assess emotional development and how to coach the network of the person with ID. The assessment itself can already be an intervention when caregivers are interviewed on different aspects of the person’s behaviour in daily life. During the interview caregivers may have new insights why some issues are so important to the person and why he or she is so challenging. If the emotional development is far beyond the intellectual development and chronological age, the demands to the person’s ability to control emotions and behaviour can be too high. Meeting emotional needs can be the key to this.

        Emotional development seems to be the missing piece in understanding and supporting the person with ID. Assessing emotional development can also help to make better psychiatric diagnosis and give better tools to support the persons and their caregivers in daily life. The Book is the first of this theme in English and it should be “the must” for everyone working in the field of ID!

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