Monthly Archive

Bibliography of Studies on Music Therapy for Rett Syndrome

1st January, 2008

References compiled by
Coast Music Therapy
San Diego, California
Summary of Findings
Music, rhythm, and musical instruments are of significant interest and motivation to girls with Rett syndrome and have been used successfully in preliminary studies to increase their responsiveness in areas such as hand use, communication, choice making, activation of augmentative devices, and self-regulation.
Burford, B., & Trevarthen, C. (1997). Evoking communication in Rett syndrome: Comparisons with conversations and games in mother-infant interaction. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 6 (Supp. 1), 26-30. (girls with Rett syndrome respond to repeated patterns of expression found in rhythmic play and music; some of these avenues can help stabilize self-regulation and facilitate learning)
Elefant, C. (2004). Rett Syndrome: Dual intervention- music and physical therapy. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 13(2), 172-182. (results from a case study suggested an increased tolerance to intervention with the collaboration of music therapy approaches)
Elefant, C., & Wigram, T. (2005). Learning ability in children with Rett syndrome. Brain & Development, 27(Supp. 1), S97-S101. (A single subject, multiple probe design with 7 girls with RS revealed that all 7 girls demonstrated discrimination skills and choice making abilities for musical stimuli presented)
Hanks, S. (1986). The role of therapy in Rett syndrome. American Journal of Medical Genetics Supplement 1, 247-52. (includes role of occupation, physical, and music therapies)
Hill, S. (1997). The relevance and value of music therapy for children with Rett syndrome. British Journal of Special Education, 24(3), 124-128. (two case studies in which music was used to influence positive change in vocalizations, visual attention, physical activity, and emotional expression)
Merker, B., Bergstroem-Isacsson, M., & Engerstroem, I. (2001). Music and the Rett disorder: the Swedish Rett Center survey. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 10(1), 43-53. (survey of caregivers to 144 individuals with Rett syndrome; music played an important role in daily life and results found individuals could discriminate their preferred songs)
Montague, J. (Date Unknown). Music therapy in the treatment of Rett syndrome. Glasgow: National Rett Syndrome Association. (overview)
Sigafoos, J., Laurie, S., & Pennell, D. (1996). Teaching children with Rett Syndrome to request preferred objects using aided communication: Two preliminary studies. Augmentative & Alternative Communication, 12(2), 88-96. (incorporation of music increased switch activation in one individual)
Sullivan, M.W. (1994). Fostering environmental control in a young child with Rett syndrome: A case study. New Brunswick, NJ: Institute for the Study of Child Development. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED376643) (data indicated the child’s ability to respond to music/toy contingencies was retained despite the degeneration of other skills)
Wesecky, A. (1986). Music therapy for children with Rett Syndrome. American Journal of Medical Genetics, 24 (Supp 1), 253-257. (music therapy can assist with decreasing stereotypic movements)
Wigram, T., & Lawrence, M. (2005). Music therapy as a tool for assessing hand use and communicativeness in children with Rett syndrome. Brain & Development, 27(Supp. 1), S95-S96. (assessment through music therapy for a 6-year-old girl with RS revealed decreased hand clasping, turn-taking, eye referencing, and vocalization in the context of music-based interventions)
Wylie, M. (1996). A case study to promote hand use in children with Rett Syndrome. Music Therapy Perspectives, 14, 83-86. (use of rhythm instruments for two preschool-aged girls with Rett syndrome with significant increase from pretest to posttest measures of hand use)
Yasuhara, A., & Sugiyama, Y. (2001). Music therapy for children with Rett syndrome. Brain & Development, 23 (S82-4). (three case studies of active music therapy to improve hand use)
Zappella, M. (1986). Motivational conflicts in Rett syndrome. American Journal of Medical Genetics Supplement 1, 143-51. (behaviors can be reduced if sources of motivation such as music are used)
For information about music therapy nation-wide, visit the American Music Therapy Association at

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