Different Types of Therapy for Children with Rett Syndrome

Page content

Rett syndrome is a genetic condition that results in slow deterioration of motor, cognitive and self care skills. The disease progresses through stages where the child has very mild deficits at first, but is fully dependent in the final stage. During these years a person with Rett’s needs different therapies to help maintain skills and prevent deformities. Here are some of the types of therapy for children with Rett syndrome.


Physiotherapy is important part of treatment and therapy for Rett syndrome. In the earlier stages, the physiotherapist plays a crucial role in helping the child maintain their motor skills for a longer period of time. As the child grows, and loses skills, the physiotherapist helps the child to be positioned well throughout the day. They may suggest ideas for good positioning so that pressure sores and deformities can be prevented. In the later stages, the physiotherapist will also help the adult with Rett’s continue to maintain the available range of motion as much as possible. The physiotherapist may also prescribe splints and other aids to help in maintaining good body position.

Occupational Therapy:

Occupational therapists mainly aim to help a child or adult in the areas of self care. The occupational therapist may teach modified ways of performing activities to make it easier for a person with Rett’s and their caregiver. The occupational therapist may also suggest ideas for modifying the environment so that daily living tasks are safer and more convenient.

Speech Therapy:

Speech therapy for children with Rett syndrome helps them to develop and maintain communication skills. Some children may vocalize and can be taught a few words, while others may not develop speech at all. For children who do not develop speech, the speech therapist explores different methods of communication like picture boards and communication boards.

Behavior Therapy:

Behaviour therapy aims at modifying problem behaviors in children with Rett syndrome. Some children may exhibit tantrums, or self injurious behavior. A behavior therapist analyses the behavior, and based on this may suggest different strategies that can be used to reduce the behavior’s occurrence. Psychologists are usually involved in behavior therapy. It also requires considerable involvement of the parents as much of the implementation is ongoing and needs to be done at home every day.

Sensory Integration Therapy:

Sensory integration is a specialized type of therapy used to treat the sensory issues commonly seen in Rett’s. In this type of therapy, the child is given opportunities to enjoy sensory experiences in a slow and graded way. The sensory integration therapist may use various activities that involve vision, hearing, smell, touch and movement.


A, S. (n.d.). Rett Syndrome: Characteristics, Causes, and Treatment. Retrieved from https://www.lynchburg.edu/Documents/GraduateStudies/Journal/ScruggsA.doc

Sarojini Budden, M. M. (1990). Communication and Oral Motor Function in Rett Syndrome. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology. 51-55.