Williams Syndrome -a Genetic Disease of Empathy
William Syndrom Affected Girl
Williams Syndrome Genetic Abnormality
Williams Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder affecting one out of every 7500 babies due to a defect on the seventh chromosome. These children are so unique they demonstrate extreme empathy, show warmth and openness even to strangers. Williams Syndrome can lead to learning disabilities and heart trouble.
These children often have slightly different facial characteristics from normal children as they have small pointed teeth, the slightly upturned nose and slight puffiness under their eyes, however, there smiling easy nature compels you to make friends with them.
Physical Effects of 7th Chromosome Disorder
7th Chromosone Image
Children are Empathetic and Without Fear
Unlike most children they show absolutely no racial bias, and they are friendly to the point where they probably would not recognize someone who wanted to do them harm. They can't stand to see anyone in pain and would be the first to offer help. They have so much empathy but it gives them a lack of healthy fear. They are not afraid of dangerous situations or objects, so they are always in need of protection since they cannot detect danger on their own.
Studies have concluded that Williams Syndrome is caused by the absence of 25 genes on the seventh chromosome, which can have extreme effects on physical, behavioral or cognitive composition of a person. Researchers know that the deletion of this genetic material happens during the production of the sperm or egg but they don't really know why. They also do not understand why this genetic condition results in hyper social behavior.
Seth Participating in Vanderbilt University Study
Seth Link is one such child that has this disorder and he has been banging on his drum kit since he was a toddler as so many of these children use music for expression. Seth had heart surgery when he was just 10 months old and while he is very sociable he suffers from high anxiety but music seems to ease his soul. When he gets very anxious his parents will ask them to think about his favorite song or go play some beats which seems to help control his anxiety level. Vanderbilt University is studying how music affects anxiety at a special camp for children with William Syndrome. This study may lead to treatment for all people with anxiety or anxiety disorders. Seth is proud to be a part of this research.
Daniel Levitin talks about Williams Syndrome on CTV's Pulse News
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Summary - Ongoing Research
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Disorder and Strokes (NINDS) have funded numerous research studies for genetic and neuro-biological causes of Williams Syndrome. As research continues there is hope that new treatment for genetic disorders will be forthcoming.
As Williams Syndrome is not well researched or well-known experts agree that the majority of the people with this disorder have not been diagnosed or misdiagnosed. National Williams Syndrome Awareness Week was just last month from May 8-14th.
The Faces of Williams Syndrome Boston University School of Medicine Presentation
The copyright to this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.
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