Williams Syndrome

Ashley Rachel Brownstein, recently posted some great information about the characteristics of Williams Syndrome(also known as Williams Beuren Syndrome) on the Disability and Special Needs Awareness group in Facebook. It's great to know the symptoms and effects of Williams Syndrome. Thanks Ashley, for letting us post your information on this site!

Syndrome Characteristics

Facial Features

Most young children with Williams Beuren Syndrome are described as having similar facial features. These features which tend to be recognized by only a trained geneticist or birth defects specialist, include a small upturned nose, long philtrum (upper lip length), wide mouth, full lips, small chin, and puffiness around the eyes. Blue and green-eyed children with the syndrome can have a prominent "starburst" or white lacy pattern on their iris. Facial features become more apparent with age.

Heart and blood vessel problems

The majority of individuals with this syndrome have some type of heart or blood vessel problem. Typically, there is narrowing in the aorta (producing supravalvular aortic stenos is SVAS), or narrowing in the pulmonary arteries. There is a broad range in the degree of narrowing, ranging from trivial to severe (requiring surgical correction of the defect). Since there is an increased risk for development of blood vessel narrowing or high blood pressure over time, periodic monitoring of cardiac status is necessary.

Hypercalcemia (elevated blood calcium levels)

Some young children with Williams Syndrome have elevations in their blood calcium level. The true frequency and cause of this problem is unknown. When hypercalcemia is present, it can cause extreme irritability or "colic-like" symptoms. Occasionally, dietary or medical treatment is needed. In most cases, the problem resolves on its own during childhood, but lifelong abnormality in calcium or Vitamin D metabolism may exist and should be monitored.

Low birth-weight / low weight gain

Most children with Williams Syndrome have a slightly lower birth-weight than their brothers or sisters. Slow weight gain, especially during the first several years of life, is also a common problem and many children are diagnosed as "failure to thrive". Adult stature is slightly smaller than average.

Feeding problems

Many infants and young children have feeding problems. These problems have been linked to low muscle tone, severe gag reflex, poor suck/swallow, tactile defensiveness etc. Feeding difficulties tend to resolve as the children get older.

continued below....


What happens when a tiny piece of life’s blueprint is missing?

You think you know the meaning of kindness, charisma, musical passion and joy until you meet Ben Monkaba and others like him with a rare genetic condition called Williams Syndrome. Despite medical hardships and intellectual challenges, people with Williams embrace life, and everyone around them, with unconditional love and acceptance.


Embraceable - Official Trailer by TaskovskiFilms

Documentary by Jon Kent, 2011, 50'
Embraceable celebrates this beautiful variation of life through candid interviews, unforgettable social encounters, amazing musical performances, and dramatic portrait photography. Running commentaries by top scientific experts bring to light how this rare genetic abnormality can teach us a great deal about ourselves.


Irritability (colic during infancy)

Many infants with Williams Syndrome have an extended period of colic or irritability. This typically lasts from 4 to 10 months of age, then resolves. It is sometimes attributed to hypercalcemia. Abnormal sleep patterns with delayed acquisition of sleeping through the night may be associated with the colic.

Dental abnormalities

Slightly small, widely spaced teeth are common in children with Williams Syndrome. They also may have a variety of abnormalities of occlusion (bite), tooth shape or appearance. Most of these dental changes are readily amenable to orthodontic correction.

Kidney abnormalities

There is a slightly increased frequency of problems with kidney structure and/or function.

Hernias

Inguinal (groin) and umbilical hernias are more common in Williams Syndrome than in the general population.

Hyperacusis (sensitive hearing)

Children with Williams Syndrome often have more sensitive hearing than other children; Certain frequencies or noise levels can be painful an/or startling to the individual. This condition often improves with age.

Musculoskeletal problems

Young children with Williams Syndrome often have low muscle tone and joint laxity. As the children get older, joint stiffness (contractures) may develop. Physical therapy is very helpful in improving muscle tone, strength and joint range of motion.

Overly friendly (excessively social) personality

Individuals with Williams Syndrome have a very endearing personality. They have a unique strength in their expressive language skills, and are extremely polite. They are typically unafraid of strangers and show a greater interest in contact with adults than with their peers.

Developmental delay, learning disabilities and
attention deficit

Most people with Williams Syndrome have some degree of intellectual handicap. Young children with Williams Syndrome often experience developmental delays; milestones such as walking, talking and toilet training are often achieved somewhat later than is considered normal. Distractibility is a common problem in mid-childhood, which appears to get better as the children get older.

Older children and adults with Williams Syndrome often demonstrate intellectual "strengths and weaknesses." There are some intellectual areas (such as speech, long term memory, and social skills) in which performance is quite strong, while other intellectual areas (such as fine motor and spatial relations) are significantly deficient.

Learn more from video





Williams Syndrome Published Research

Emotion Regulation and Dysregulation in Children and Adolescents with Williams Syndrome.

Emotion Regulation and Dysregulation in Children and Adolescents with Williams Syndrome.

The case study examined performance of individuals with Williams syndrome on measures of emotion regulation and compared this performance to behavioral ratings and measures of executive functioning. Participants included 37 children and adolescents with Williams syndrome, aged 8-15.



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