Social and cognitive interactions through an interactive school service for RTT patients at the COVID-19 time
Background: The closure of all educational institutions and most rehabilitation centers represents a precautionary measure to face the COVID-19 pandemic, but the isolation and social distancing may be particularly challenging for children with special needs and disabilities (SEND), such as Rett Syndrome (RTT). The main aim of this study was to promote cognitive and social interactions among children and girls with RTT, through the interactive school program Methods: The Interactive School palimpsest was composed of moments in which the teacher spoke directly to the subjects with RTT and expected a response through eye gaze, and moments in which stories-cartoon were presented while tracking the eye gaze of the patients. We investigated behavioural, social and cognitive parameters. Results: Patients attended both social and cognitive tasks with the spontaneous reduction of stereotypies and with the increase of attention. They recalled more significant indexes when the music or the song was presented together with the cartoon or the cognitive task. Conclusions: this study provides initial insights in promoting cognitive and social interactions and into the support needs of families with a child with RTT during the COVID-19 pandemic.