Communication in Individuals with Rett Syndrome: an Assessment of Forms and Functions

Robert Didden*, Hubert Korzilius, Eric Smeets, Vanessa A. Green, Russell Lang, Giulio E. Lancioni, Leopold M. Curfs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In the present study we assessed the forms and functions of prelinguistic communicative behaviors for 120 children and adults with Rett syndrome using the Inventory of Potential Communicative Acts (IPCA) (Sigafoos et al. Communication Disorders Quarterly 21:77-86, 2000a). Informants completed the IPCA and the results were analysed to provide a systematic inventory and objective description of the communicative forms and functions present in each individual's repertoire. Results show that respondents reported a wide variety of communicative forms and functions. By far most girls used prelinguistic communicative behaviors of which eye contact/gazing was the most common form. The most often endorsed communicative functions were social convention, commenting, answering, requesting and choice-making. Problematic topographies (e.g., self-injury, screaming, non-compliance) were being used for communicative purposes in 10 to 41% of the sample. Exploratory analyses revealed that several communicative forms and functions were related to living environment, presence/absence of epilepsy, and age. That is, higher percentages of girls who showed some forms/functions were found in those who lived at home, who had no epilepsy and who were relatively young.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-118
JournalJournal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010


  • Rett syndrome
  • Children and adults
  • Prelinguistic behavior
  • Communicative forms
  • Communicative functions
  • Communicative behaviors

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