An Exploration of the Use of Eye Gaze and Gestures in Females With Rett Syndrome Purpose This study investigated the communicative use of eye gaze and gestures in females with Rett syndrome. Method Data on 151 females with Rett syndrome participating in the Australian Rett Syndrome Database was used in this study. Items from the Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales Developmental Profile Infant–Toddler ... Research Article
Research Article  |   December 01, 2016
An Exploration of the Use of Eye Gaze and Gestures in Females With Rett Syndrome
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Anna Urbanowicz
    Telethon Kids Institute, The University of Australia, Perth, Western Australia
    School of Exercise and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia
  • Jenny Downs
    Telethon Kids Institute, The University of Australia, Perth, Western Australia
    School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia
  • Sonya Girdler
    School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia
  • Natalie Ciccone
    School of Psychology and Social Science, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia
  • Helen Leonard
    Telethon Kids Institute, The University of Australia, Perth, Western Australia
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Anna Urbanowicz: anna.urbanowicz@telethonkids.org.au
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Linda Watson
    Associate Editor: Linda Watson×
Article Information
Special Populations / Genetic & Congenital Disorders / Autism Spectrum / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 01, 2016
An Exploration of the Use of Eye Gaze and Gestures in Females With Rett Syndrome
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2016, Vol. 59, 1373-1383. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-14-0185
History: Received July 7, 2014 , Revised February 5, 2015 , Accepted July 27, 2015
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2016, Vol. 59, 1373-1383. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-14-0185
History: Received July 7, 2014; Revised February 5, 2015; Accepted July 27, 2015

Purpose This study investigated the communicative use of eye gaze and gestures in females with Rett syndrome.

Method Data on 151 females with Rett syndrome participating in the Australian Rett Syndrome Database was used in this study. Items from the Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales Developmental Profile Infant–Toddler Checklist (Wetherby & Prizant, 2002) were used to measure communication. Relationships between the use of eye gaze and gestures for communication were investigated using logistic regression. The influences of MECP2 mutation type, age, and level of motor abilities on the use of eye gaze and gestures were investigated using multivariate linear regression.

Results Both eye gaze and the use of gestures predicted the ability to make requests. Women aged 19 years or older had the lowest scores for eye gaze. Females with better gross motor abilities had higher scores for the use of eye gaze and gestures. The use of eye gaze did not vary across mutation groups, but those with a C-terminal deletion had the highest scores for use of gestures.

Conclusions Eye gaze is used more frequently than gestures for communication, and this is related to age, MECP2 mutation type, and gross motor abilities.

Acknowledgments
We would like to acknowledge specific funding support from an Australian Postgraduate Award—the Stan and Jean Perron Scholarship—and the National Health Medical Research Council (NHMRC). The Australian Rett Syndrome Research Program is currently supported by an NHMRC project grant (1004384) and an NHMRC program grant (572742). Professor Helen Leonard's current funding is from NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship Grant 572568.We would like to express our sincere gratitude to all the families participating in the Australian Rett Syndrome Database and gratefully acknowledge their continued contribution to the study of Rett syndrome in Australia. We also gratefully acknowledge the statistical support of Peter Jacoby. We would like to thank the Australian Paediatric Surveillance Unit and the Rett Syndrome Association of Australia who facilitated case ascertainment in Australia. The Australian Paediatric Surveillance Unit is a unit of the Division of Paediatrics, Royal Australasian College of Physicians, and is funded by the Department of Health and Ageing and NHMRC.
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