An exploration of the use of eye gaze and gestures in females with Rett syndrome

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research


American Speech - Language - Hearing Association


School of Medical and Health Sciences




Article Urbanowicz, A., Downs, J., Girdler, S., Ciccone, N., & Leonard, H. (2016). An Exploration of the Use of Eye Gaze and Gestures in Females With Rett Syndrome. Journal of Speech Language, and Hearing Research, 59(6), 1373-1383. doi: 10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-14-0185. Available here.


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.



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