Williams Syndrome, a genetic condition present at birth, affects between 20,000 and 30,000 people in the United States and occurs equally in males and females. People with Williams Syndrome are known to be strikingly verbal, highly social, and drawn to music. However, these attributes that bring joy and make individuals with Williams Syndrome friendly and endearing also accompany a variety of medical and cognitive concerns.
Babies born with Williams Syndrome often have serious cardiovascular problems and may require repeated surgical interventions. They also tend to be irritable or “colicky” babies that experience slow weight gain and related feeding problems. As they grow, children with Williams Syndrome may struggle with kidney issues, sensitive hearing, musculoskeletal problems, developmental delays, learning disabilities, and ADHD. The most common cognitive concerns as children with Williams Syndrome grow and develop are understanding abstract reasoning, number concepts, and spatial relations. Paired with physical challenges, these cognitive concerns typically require individuals with Williams Syndrome to receive supportive housing and specialized employment.
In spite of these difficulties, children with Williams Syndrome are often described as being highly endearing and polite, traits that could serve them very well in life. Often adults with Williams Syndrome have very defined strengths and weaknesses, so encouraging a child’s strength and helping to find improvements or workarounds for weaknesses like spatial reasoning can help set your child up for success. Even with the challenges, living with a child who has Williams Syndrome is often a very rewarding experience.
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