Rett’s Syndome (RS), also known as Rett’s Disorder, belongs to a group of childhood developmental disabilities called Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDDs) or Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASDs).
Children with RS initially grow and develop normally, but this development ceases and even regresses anywhere between 3 months and 3 years old, resulting in a loss of previously attained skills such as talking and walking. The first symptoms include loss of muscle tone, difficulty crawling and diminishing social interaction. Children can begin instead to develop compulsive hand movements, such as wringing or clapping.
There are a number of other common problems with RS:
- Loss of controlled hand movements, such as grasping, reaching for or touching objects on purpose
- Inability to perform motor functions, hindering movement and balance
- Learning disabilities
- Speech problems
- Breathing difficulties
Other issues can include: digestive problems, particularly constipation and gastric reflux; scoliosis (curving of the spine occurring in around 80% of children); heart problems; seizures; difficulty feeding themselves, swallowing and chewing and trouble sleeping.
RS occurs mostly in girls. Many survive into adulthood, but become increasingly disabled and require constant care. However, individuals can be treated for the problems arising from the condition such as improving or maintaining movement or facilitating social interaction and communication. A team approach to therapy can help with this, including ABA, physical and occupational therapy and speech-language therapy. Medication and/or surgery can also be effective for treating some of the symptoms associated with the condition. Contact us to find out how we can help.
Did you know?
Although there is currently no cure, a paper in the journal Science (2007) stated that animal testing had shown a reversal in Rett symptoms. These findings have galvanised clinical and scientific teams and brought hope to charities and families.