This text-based course is a written transcript of the seminar, “Rett Syndrome: Communication Assessment and Intervention; Part 1” presented by Theresa Bartolotta, Ph.D., CCC-SLP.
>> Theresa Bartolotta: I am so pleased to have this opportunity to speak with all of you today about a topic that I have become very interested in over the last 10 years or so. I am thrilled to see so many of you signed on for this lecture and evidently are so interested in this population. When I first started working with individuals with Rett syndrome, as I said over 10 years ago, very few speech-language pathologists were familiar with this population. Thankfully much has changed in the last 10 years. There is a lot more research going on about the disorder and especially with regard to communication potential in this population.
As Amy mentioned, today is a Part I of what will be a two-part session that I am going to be doing on communication assessment and intervention in the population. Today my goals are to provide you with comprehensive information on the characteristics of Rett syndrome so that you understand diagnosis and also what the key features are in the disorder. I will also talk about what we see happen in individuals with Rett syndrome across the lifespan. Then I will talk with you about some strategies that you can utilize to improve communication skills in the individuals with Rett syndrome that you have on your caseload. Part II which will be an in-depth look at specific strategies for communication intervention. I will go into greater detail about assessment strategies and intervention and then talk with you quite a bit about some research that we are doing right now on communication coaching with individuals with Rett syndrome.
Hallmarks of Rett Syndrome
What are the distinctive characteristics of Rett syndrome? Individuals with Rett syndrome demonstrate significant impairments in essentially three key areas: cognition, communication, and motor function. Typically when we would think about individuals with Rett syndrome in the past, the general thinking was that these individuals were very severely impaired in these three areas, and essentially were incapable of intentional communication or symbolic functioning. Because of some of the events that have occurred over the last decade, we know that is not true, that there is a range of impairment. Even though these individuals do have significant difficulties in many aspects of their life, we do know that there is a great deal of potential in the population and as we learn more about the disorder, speech-language pathologists along with other professionals can really do a lot to improve the quality of life for these individuals and their families.