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Res Dev Disabil. 2012 Nov-Dec;33(6):1715-21. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2012.05.014. Epub 2012 Jun 13.

Peculiarities in the gestural repertoire: an early marker for Rett syndrome?

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  • 1Institute of Physiology (Developmental Physiology and Developmental Neuroscience; IN:spired), Center for Physiological Medicine, Medical University of Graz, Austria.


We studied the gestures used by children with classic Rett syndrome (RTT) to provide evidence as to how this essential aspect of communicative functions develops. Seven participants with RTT were longitudinally observed between 9 and 18 months of life. The gestures used by these participants were transcribed and coded from a retrospective analysis of a video footage. Gestures were classified as deictic gestures, play schemes, and representational gestures. Results of the analysis showed that the majority of gestures observed were of deictic character. There were no gestures that could be classified as play schemes and only two (e.g., head nodding and waving bye bye) that were coded as representational or symbolic gestures. The overall repertoire of gestures, even though not necessarily delayed in it's onset, was characterized by little variability and a restricted pragmatic functionality. We conclude that the gestural abilities in girls with RTT appear to remain limited and do not constitute a compensatory mechanism for the verbal language modality.

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