Early socio-communicative forms and functions in typical Rett syndrome

Katrin D. Bartl-Pokorny, Peter B. Marschik, Jeff Sigafoos, Helen Tager-Flusberg, Walter E. Kaufmann, Tobias Grossmann, Christa Einspieler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Rett syndrome (RTT) is a severe neurological disorder characterized by a developmental regression in motor and speech-language domains. There is, however, limited research on socio-communicative development of affected children before the onset of regression. We analyzed audio-video recordings made by parents of six 9- to 12-month old girls later diagnosed with typical RTT, applying the Inventory of Potential Communicative Acts (IPCA) to identify early communicative forms and functions. Each girl used at least one communicative form (e.g., body movement, eye gaze, or vocalizations) to gain attention and answer, but none were observed to make choices or request information. Varying numbers of children were observed to perform other communicative functions according to the IPCA including social convention, rejecting or requesting an object. Non-verbal forms (e.g., reaching, moving closer, eye contact, smiling) were more common than non-linguistic verbal forms (e.g., unspecified vocalizations, pleasure vocalizations, crying). (Pre-)linguistic verbal forms (e.g., canonical or variegated babbling, proto-words) were not used for communicative purposes. These data suggest that atypical developmental patterns in the socio-communicative domain are evident prior to regression in young individuals later diagnosed with RTT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3133-3138
Number of pages6
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Family videos
  • Home videos
  • Infants
  • Retrospective analysis
  • Rett syndrome
  • Socio-communicative development
  • Video analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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