Learning ability in children with Rett syndrome


      The purpose of this article is to present results of a research study examining learning ability in individuals with Rett syndrome. The material for this article was drawn from a more extensive doctoral study, designed to investigate intentional communication in this population, through the use of songs in music therapy. Rett syndrome is a neurological disorder resulting from an X-linked mutation, affecting mainly females, and found across racial and ethnic groups worldwide. One of the main areas affecting functioning in individuals with Rett syndrome is a severe impairment of receptive and expressive communication. This creates difficulties when attempting to reveal their potential learning abilities. This population has been observed as very responsive to music hence music therapy intervention has been advocated in promoting and motivating them to communicate and to learn. Seven girls with Rett syndrome, between ages 4 and 10 participated in the study. A single subject, multiple probe design was applied during 30-min trials, three times per week and lasted 8 months. During the trials the participants were asked to choose from a selection of 18 familiar and unfamiliar songs, while their ability to learn was observed and measured. Findings revealed that all seven girls demonstrated an ability to learn and to sustain learning over time. This intervention demonstrated that individuals with Rett syndrome could be promoted and motivated to communicate and learn when therapeutically employed by a trained music therapists.


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