PhD Students

Wikke van der Putten

After finishing the Research Master of Psychology and the master of Clinical Developmental Psychology, both at the University of Amsterdam in 2018, I started working as a research assistant for the “Autism & Aging” project of d’Arc and as a psychologist at the Dr. Leo Kannerhuis. I joind d’Arc as a PhD-student in October 2019, under supervision of prof. dr. Hilde Geurts and dr. Audrey Mol. My PhD-project is a cooperation between d’Arc and the Dr. Leo Kannerhuis, which is a specialized mental health clinic for autistic children, adolescents and adults.

During my PhD-project, I focus mainly on the role of camouflaging behavior in the development of mental health difficulties in autistic adults. I will investigate how camouflaging can be measured in a valid and reliable manner, which will result in a self-report questionnaire that can be used in scientific research and clinical practice. Furthermore, I aim to disentangle for whom camouflaging may be related to mental health difficulties and whether camouflaging behavior is specific for autistic adults. In these studies, I will also focus on sex differences in camouflaging behavior. After gaining more knowledge about the construct of camouflaging behavior, I aim to investigate the role of camouflaging behavior in the diagnostics process and during interventions.

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Carolien Torenvliet

I joined d’Arc as a PhD-student in January 2019 under supervision of prof. dr. Hilde Geurts and dr. Annabeth Groenman. I obtained my Research Master degree in Neuropsychology at the University of Amsterdam in 2018. During this time I expanded my knowlegde on cognitive aging and advanced statistical methods. I aim to use this combination of skills during my PhD project.

During my PhD project I focus on cognitive aging in autism spectrum condition. I aim to understand which components of cognition (e.g. memory, language, planning) might decline more rapidly or slowly in aging autistic adults in comparison to aging in non-autistic adults. Also, I aim to see whether this is true for all, or only some autistic adults by creating integrated models of cognition. Lastly, I aim to gain further knowledge on how autistic adults approach cognitive challenges, by investigating their cognitive style and strategies, and how this might differ from non-autistic adults. I will use a large cross-sectional dataset and try to validate the cross-sectional findings longitudinally by testing a large sample of adults with and without autism from the age of 30 to 90 at multiple timepoints.

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Tulsi Radhoe

I joined d’Arc as a PhD-student in February 2018 under supervision of prof. dr. Hilde Geurts and dr. Joost Agelink van Rentergem. I obtained my Master’s degree in Clinical Neuropsychology and Methodology & Statistics at Leiden University.

During my PhD-project, I will focus on aging in people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I aim to establish empirically defined ASD-subtypes by using questionnaire and behavioral data. To this end, I will apply advanced statistical techniques and investigate the validity of the subtypes by also analyzing variables that were not used in their definition. Furthermore, I am interested in the stability of the subtypes over time, which I will examine by collecting longitudinal data. Through these subtypes we will be able to identify potential vulnerability and protective factors for aging with an ASD. These findings will contribute to a better understanding of heterogeneity in ASD, and of the prognosis of those aging with an ASD.

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Rinske van den Heuvel

I started my PhD-project in February 2020 at the Dr. Leo Kannerhuis and the HAN, University of Applied Sciences. My PhD is supervised by Prof. Dr. Hilde Geurts, Prof. Dr. Michel Wensing and Dr. Jan-Pieter Teunisse. I obtained my Research Master degree in Social and Health Psychology and my Master degree in Clinical Psychology, both at Utrecht University.

During my PhD-project (called Netwerk in Actie: Network in Action) I focus on the social network of people with autism who currently receive treatment at dr. Leo Kannerhuis. More specifically, the aim of the project is to learn more about involving and strengthening the social support network within a treatment setting. Throughout the project, there is a collaboration with therapists, clients and family members of clients.

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Ilona Schouwenaars

In January 2018 I started my PhD at HAN University of Applied Sciences. My PhD is supervised by prof. dr. Hilde Geurts, prof. dr. Coen van Bennekom, dr. Maurice Magnée and dr. Jan-Pieter Teunisse. I received my master degree in Culture and Religion psychology (MSc cum laude) at Radboud University.

In my PhD project, called ‘Beter Leren door Beter Slapen’ (Sleep Better, Learn Better), I focus on the relationship between sleep and school functioning in youth with an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis (ASD). Besides increasing the knowledge about the relationship between sleep and school functioning, I aim to develop and investigate a school-based sleep intervention to improve sleep and school functioning. During the project I collaborate with both adolescents with ASD, parents and teacher in order to meet their needs regarding the school-based sleep intervention.


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Harriet Reynolds

I started my PhD in September 2020 on the acquisition of the linguistic notion of ‘topic’ in autistic and typically developing children and adolescents, with prof. Jeannette Schaeffer, prof. Karen Lahousse and dr. Tim Ziermans as my advisors. ‘Topic’ is what a sentence is about and is crucial for effective communication, including, for example, correct pronoun and article (a/the) use. Before starting my PhD, I obtained a research Master degree in Linguistics from the University of Amsterdam.

My project investigates how children/adolescents acquire topic, what other aspects of linguistic and extra-linguistic cognition affect this, whether there are differences between males and females, and whether ‘topic’ acquisition is linked to social communication abilities. In answering these questions, the project will contribute to a better understanding of the communicative challenges found in autism, in turn leading to recommendations for remediation methods.

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Richard Vuijk

I am clinical psychologist at Sarr Autism Rotterdam, part of Parnassia Psychiatric Institute, the Netherlands. My focus is treating mental health problems in adults with autism spectrum disorder diagnoses. My research and publications address the assessment, personality and treatment of individuals with autism spectrum disorders diagnoses. For PhD projects I am under supervision of prof. dr. H.M. Geurts and prof. dr. A.R. Arntz, University of Amsterdam. I am active in the training of psychologists and psychiatrists to diagnose and treat autism and personality pathology in adults. In 2014 (second edition 2016) I developed the NIDA (Nederlands Interview ten behoeve van Autismespectrumstoornis bij volwassenen – Netherlands Interview for Diagnostic assessment of Autism spectrum disorder in adults).

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