About Williams Syndrome
Williams Syndrome is a developmental disorder that affects many parts of both the body and personality. The condition is characterised by a number of features including:
- Mild tomoderate learning disabilities
- Unique personality characteristics, including being ‘over friendly’ and very trusting of strangers.
- Cardiovascular problems
- High levels of inattention or Attention Deficit Disorder
- Distinctive facial features
- Problems with visual-spatial tasks and co-ordination
- Other physical features including being shorter than other family members.
What causes Williams Syndrome?
Williams’ Syndrome is a rare genetic condition caused by missing genes. Parents may not have any family history of the condition. However, a person with Williams syndrome has a 50% chance of passing the disorder on to each of his or her children.
How does Williams Syndrome affect a child?
Unlike other disorders that can make it difficult to interact meaningfully with your child, children with Williams Syndrome are sociable, friendly and endearing. Most children with this condition have very outgoing and engaging personalities and tend to take an extreme interest in other people.
The need for social interaction and meaningful relationships is as important to a child with WS as it is for anyone else; however because they look ‘different’ and because they may lack the sophisticated social skills that other children have, forming lasting relationships and ‘fitting in’ with peers can be very difficult.
Around 50% of children with a diagnosis of WS also have Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. They may worry constantly and develop phobias, which leads to difficulty interacting with the world around them.
Helping your child with Williams Syndrome
Verbal Behaviour(VB) – is at the heart of treatment for this condition. Based on the science of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), VB is one of the most effective ways of teaching language and communication skills to children with Williams Syndrome and a range of other conditions and disorders.
Because Williams Syndrome children are keen to engage with other people, developing their communication skills through verbal means is often a highly effective way of improving their life. Equipping a child with Williams Syndrome to communicate more effectively can make a huge improvement in their ability to find friends and maintain those relationships.
Children with Williams Syndrome tend to be very trusting and take verbal communication at ‘face value’, sometimes misinterpreting underlying meanings or failing to pick up non verbal information such as body language.
VB is a highly effective way of equipping a child to interpret the hidden meanings behind communication, enabling them to interact appropriately in different social settings. It can also teach them new skills and behaviours to replace inappropriate behaviours and language deficits.
Helping the whole family
Learning that your child has Williams Syndrome can be overwhelming. Taking in the diagnosis, sorting out the immediate medical issues and coming to terms with this lifelong condition, can be hugely challenging.
NETwork Interventions recognises that when a child has any disorder or medical condition, the whole family is affected – and our guidance and support are available for you as well.
NETwork has a whole family approach; this means that we don’t just address the issues and challenges your child is facing; instead we work with you as a family unit, guiding you together through any struggles or challenges, and helping you get your lives back on track.
With a diagnosis of WS, it is important to work as a team with the child, family and other professions, such as doctors and occupational therapists, to help your child thrive. NETwork encourages open communication with all members of the child's environment, to ensure they are getting the most consistent and helpful intervention possible.
Our NETwork scheme can also link you up with other families caring for a child with WS. Sharing your experiences, joys and struggles with other parents and siblings can make all the difference.