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Rett’s Disorder Symptoms

The essential feature of Rett’s disorder is the development of multiple specific deficits in a child following a period of normal functioning after birth. Individuals have an apparently normal prenatal and perinatal period with normal psychomotor development through the first 5 months of life. Head circumference at birth is also within normal limits.

Rett’s disorder is typically associated with severe or profound mental retardation.

Specific Symptoms of Rett’s Disorder

All of the following:

  • Apparently normal prenatal and perinatal development
  • Apparently normal psychomotor development through the first 5 months after birth
  • Normal head circumference at birth

Onset of all of the following after the period of normal development:

  • A deceleration of head growth between ages 5 and 48 months
  • Loss of previously acquired purposeful hand skills between ages 5 and 30 months with the subsequent development of stereotyped hand movements (e.g., hand-wringing or handwashing)
  • Loss of social engagement early in the course (although often social interaction develops later)
  • Appearance of poorly-coordinated gait or trunk movements
  • Severely-impaired expressive and receptive language development with severe psychomotor retardation

John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Dr. John Grohol is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Psych Central. He is an author, researcher, and expert in mental health online, and has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 1995. Dr. Grohol has a Master's degree and doctorate in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Grohol sits on the editorial board of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is a founding board member of the Society for Participatory Medicine. You can learn more about Dr. John Grohol here.

APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2020). Rett’s Disorder Symptoms. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 2, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 1 Jul 2020 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 1 Jul 2020
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