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Rett's Disorder

(Also Known As: Retts Disorder, Rett's, Retts, Autism, Pervasive Development Disorder, Mental Retardation, Neurological Disorder)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

What is Rett’s Disorder?

Rett's disorder is a neurodevelopmental ailment which is classified by DSM-IV-TR in a group of childhood disorders known as pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs) or autistic spectrum disorders. This condition, also called as Rett’s syndrome or RS, is described as the development of specific deficits following a period of normal functioning after birth. In 1965, Andreas Rett, an Austrian physician, identified a syndrome in 22 baby girls who appeared to have developed normally for at least six months, followed by a devastating developmental deterioration. 1

The clinical features include a deceleration of the rate of head growth after the fifth month; this causes the failure of the infant’s head to develop normally. This developmental failure is in turn caused by a genetic mutation affecting production of a key protein that regulates brain development. Additionally, purposeful hand movements are eventually lost and after 30 months, the child frequently develops stereotypic, repetitive hand movements such as mouthing or wringing. Rett's disorder is also associated with severe or profound mental retardation. 2

Socialization typically improves by the time they enter school. Girls with Rett syndrome are prone to gastrointestinal disorders and up to 80% experience seizures. They typically have no verbal skills, and about 50% of females are not ambulatory. Scoliosis, growth failure, and constipation are also very common problems. Many arguments were raised as to why RS is classified as a pervasive developmental disorder, just as it would be to include such disorders as fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, or Down syndrome where one can see autistic features. The symptoms of this disorder are closely similar, and thus can be confused with those of Angelman syndrome, cerebral palsy and autism. 3

Could You Have Rett's Disorder?

Rett's Disorder Topics

Related Conditions

Asperger's Syndrome – autism, delayed development in motor, communication and social skills, cognitive impairment, clumsiness
Autism – brain development disorder, Asperger’s disorder, impaired social interaction, restricted and repetitive behavior
Childhood Disintegrative Disorder - late onset of delayed development, impaired social, motor and communication skills
Pervasive Developmental Disorder NOS - delayed development in social, communication and motor skills