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Rett syndrome: update of a 25 year follow-up investigation in Western Sweden – sociomedical aspects

      Abstract

      Through 1998–1999 the Swedish research team have systematically mapped 45 of 54 females with Rett syndrome (RS) aged 5–57 years (Berg M. Uppföljning av flickor med Rett syndrom i Västsverige. Socialmedicinsk kartläggning, Stencilerad rapport, Sahlgrenska universitetssjukhuset, Göteborg, 1999; Läkartidningen (Swedish Medical Journal) 96 (1999) 5488). The emphasis is on the RS females' adjustment to grown-up living. At an adult age the large majority moved over to a Swedish type of small group home. We visited these girls in their group homes and got information about their adaptation to this special home situation. We noted their behaviour and contact with the staff and interviewed their parents. The results showed that the young women usually had adjusted well. The adjustment seemed to depend on the degree of planning before the girls moved from their parents to special group homes. These seem to provide a good environment for the RS females, in respect of both physical and social aspects. Although neuropaediatrics in Sweden today has advanced in RS knowledge, the result from this research shows that in Swedish society there is still a great ignorance of RS, even among medical professionals. In particular there is a gap of knowledge when the medical responsibility had to be transferred over to adult medicine. Many of the parents emphasized the great importance of how they were listened to by professionals in public medical and social services. It is essential that professionals always listen to information from parents and personal assistants.

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