Parental perspectives on the communication abilities of their daughters with Rett syndrome

Dev Neurorehabil. 2016;19(1):17-25. doi: 10.3109/17518423.2013.879940. Epub 2014 Feb 24.


Objective: This study describes, from the perspective of parents, how females with Rett syndrome communicate in everyday life and the barriers and facilitators to successful communication.

Methods: Sixteen interviews were conducted with parents with a daughter with Rett syndrome with a pathogenic mutation in the methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 gene. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were analysed using directed content analysis.

Results: All parents reported their daughters were able to express discomfort and pleasure, and make requests and choices using a variety of modalities including vocalisations, body movements and eye gaze. Parents also reported their daughters understood most of what they said and that the level of functional abilities, such as mobility, and environmental factors, such as characteristics of the communication partner, influenced successful communication.

Conclusions: The perspectives of parents are integral to the assessment of communication abilities and have the potential to inform communication interventions for girls and women with Rett syndrome.

Keywords: Expressive communication; International Classification of Functioning; intellectual disability; receptive communication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Choice Behavior
  • Communication
  • Communication Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Comprehension*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2 / genetics
  • Mutation
  • Nonverbal Communication*
  • Parents*
  • Rett Syndrome / genetics
  • Rett Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Young Adult


  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2