Rett Syndrome is a rare developmental disorder. It’s often misdiagnosed as autism, cerebral palsy, or non-specified developmental disorder. While Rett syndrome does share many characteristics and symptoms with these disorders, it is a completely separate entity. In order to help raise awareness of this disorder and educate the public, the International Rett Syndrome Foundation has designated October as Rett Syndrome Awareness Month.
Rett syndrome is first recognized in infancy and occurs almost exclusively in girls. It is caused by a mutation on one of several spots on the X chromosome of a specific gene called MECP2. A child with Rett Syndrome will experience normal or near-normal development in early infancy, up through about six to eight-teen months of age. This is followed by a period of regression in which some skills are lost. Brain function is disrupted and can cause issues with cognitive, sensory, emotional, motor, or autonomic function. The type and extent of disability can range widely between individuals. Abilities ranging from speech and communication to breathing and swallowing may be disrupted.
While there is no cure for Rett syndrome, professional intervention and therapy can help a child with this disorder thrive. Speech-language pathologists are often involved in therapy targeted at helping the child communicate and connect effectively with others. This may involve finding assistive technology, such as a communication device, that is appropriate to the child and helping them to learn to use it effectively. The speech-language pathologist will also help assess the child for breathing and swallowing difficulties which may affect their nutritional intake and provide counseling.
To learn more about Rett Syndrome, visit the International Rett Syndrome Foundation at www.rettsyndrome.org. If you or a loved one may benefit from the services of a speech-language pathologist or speech therapist, visit us at www.speechassociatesofny.com to find a professional who can help you find the path to better communication today.