Using Eye-Tracking Technology for Communication in Rett Syndrome: Perceptions of Impact
Augmentative and Alternative Communication
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Studies have investigated the use of eye-tracking technology to assess cognition in individuals with Rett syndrome, but few have looked at this access method for communication for this group. Loss of speech, decreased hand use, and severe motor apraxia significantly impact functional communication for this population. Eye gaze is one modality that may be used successfully by individuals with Rett syndrome. This multiple case study explored whether using eye-tracking technology, with ongoing support from a team of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) therapists, could help four participants with Rett syndrome meet individualized communication goals. Two secondary objectives were to examine parents' perspectives on (a) the psychosocial impact of their child’s use of the technology, and (b) satisfaction with using the technology. All four participants were rated by the treating therapists to have made improvement on their goals. According to both quantitative findings and descriptive information, eye-tracking technology was viewed by parents as contributing to participants’ improved psychosocial functioning. Parents reported being highly satisfied with both the device and the clinical services received. This study provides initial evidence that eye-tracking may be perceived as a worthwhile and potentially satisfactory technology to support individuals with Rett syndrome in communicating. Future, more rigorous research that addresses the limitations of a case study design is required to substantiate study findings.