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Teaching Movements for Communication for Individuals who have Rett Syndrome

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Individuals with Rett Syndrome face a variety of challenges to communication and learning. Severe apraxia / dyspraxia, breathing challenges, anxiety and associated health issues can make it very challenging for them to move their bodies according to their own intent. Neurologically driven hand stereotypies and the decreased ability to demonstrate what they know, often make them appear more cognitively impaired than they actually are. Reaching these children’s underlying cognitive abilities is challenging.

Even though Rett Syndrome has a degenerative phase, it is not a degenerative disorder. After the initial degenerative phase, many individuals can slowly learn or re-learn some motor skills that can be used to access communication, even though they will probably not recover all that they have lost.

This session will share experience with a number of individuals who have been taught to use simple movements for multi-modality communication and also to access robust communication systems. We will address strategies for teaching movements for initiation, eye-pointing (light and high tech), head movements for indicating yes/no (rejecting and accepting) in partner assisted scanning, use of hands for stabilization, as well as switch control for access to the play, curriculum and communication.


Linda Burkhart    
Linda J. Burkhart
United States

Fiona Beauchamp    
Cerebral Palsy Education Centre

Gayle Porter    
Cerebral Palsy Education Centre

Haylee Parfett    
Cerebral Palsy Educaiton Centre


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