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Williams Syndrome -a Genetic Disease of Empathy

Updated on February 6, 2018
Pamela99 profile image

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, and lifestyle are all important.

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.

William Syndrom Affected Girl


Physical Effects of 7th Chromosome Disorder


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.

7th Chromosone Image


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

The Faces of Williams Syndrome Boston University School of Medicine Presentation

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 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.


Submit a Comment
  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Lord, This disease definitely has some unique characteristics and it sad for the children. Thanks for your comments.

  • Lord De Cross profile image

    Joseph De Cross 

    6 years ago from New York

    My heart goes out to all these children with Williams Syndrome. Funny to find their empathy is sharper than a single normal Wall st. trader. Unbelievable. Thanks for sharing Pam!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 years ago from Sunny Florida

    zanna, I am so sorry to hear your sister has this disease. It is probably hard for you parents and you, as everyone must watch out for her. I wish scientist could find a way to cure it, but I know with genetic disease this is difficult. I hope you do have a wonderful life, and blessings to you and your family.

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    my sister is 16 and was only diagnosed with williams syndrome when she was 13 because it was so rare. she has learning difficulties and her health problems were cancer when she was 5 and she stuggles with being under weight .neither runs in the family. it is hard for my mum but she does such a good job :) my sister will be mostly reliant on someone helping her to look after herself for the rest of her life , she can do most things just gets very easily sidetracked!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    JamaGenee, It is rare thank goodness. Thanks for your comments.

  • JamaGenee profile image

    Joanna McKenna 

    7 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    I had no idea this syndrome existed. To my knowledge, I've never met anyone who has it, but now, of course, will be looking for it in the faces of strangers. Thanks for sharing this information. ;D

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Support Med, Both videos just worked fine for me so I'm not sure what happened. Thank you for your comments.

  • Support Med. profile image

    Support Med. 

    7 years ago from Michigan

    My goodness. This is some disease indeed. Thanks for sharing this. Not able to see the videos for some reason. Hopefully can get that worked out soon. v/r

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    roberta, Thank you for your comments.

  • Roberta99 profile image


    7 years ago

    I have never heard of this disease before. The children are so adorable it is amazing they have such empathy. Great article.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    RedElf, I appreciate your writing about someone you know, as most people had not heard of the disease. I think different children can be affected in different ways as far as learning disabilities go. Thanks so much for your comments.

  • RedElf profile image


    7 years ago from Canada

    The daughter of a dear friend has Williams Syndrome. This is a wonderful write-up. She is an amazing young woman and a super hard-worker, but because her cognitive skills are affected (she cannot manage numbers) it's hard for her to manage in some jobs - has to be a no-math-involved job. Another interesting facet of her personality is that she incapable of lying or dissembling in any way. Thanks for tackling such a little-known subject.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Hanna, Thanks for your comments.

    Audry, I think this is one most people haven't heard of before. Thanks for your comments.

  • akirchner profile image

    Audrey Kirchner 

    7 years ago from Washington

    I was all set to make a joke and say that I think I have this disorder but actually it's not so dang funny! I've never heard of this believe it or not - thanks for the information to store in my old lady brain on yet another syndrome...sigh - I wish there weren't so many.

  • HealthyHanna profile image


    7 years ago from Utah

    Interesting. The human body and mind is amazing. It stands to reason that there would be an opposite to ODD.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Happyboomernurse, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub and I appreciate your comments.

    Hello, Thank you so much for your comments.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 

    7 years ago from London, UK

    Thank you, Pamela, for bringing this to our attention. Brilliantly written hub.

  • Happyboomernurse profile image

    Gail Sobotkin 

    7 years ago from South Carolina

    Great hub. Never heard about this syndrome before, but you did a great job of explaining it, and the videos brought the kids and young adults with the syndrome to life.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Nell, It seems most people haven't heard of this genetic disorder. Thanks for your comments.

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 

    7 years ago from England

    Hi, I also had never heard of this syndrome before, thank you for sharing, cheers nell

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    drbj, I'm glad to get the word out about a disease that that we know so little about and I appreciate your comments.

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 

    7 years ago from south Florida

    Pamela - thank you for this intelligent and more than empathic hub about Williams Syndrome. You have informed your readers of what is probably a very little-known genetic disorder. Voted up.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    anginwu, Since this is a rare disease I think many people haven't heard of this disease. I agree a little of this personality would be a good think in this world. Thank you for your comments.

  • anglnwu profile image


    7 years ago

    I have not heard of this syndrome and therefore finds it interesting. Their ability to emphasize is amazing--I agree with Rev Lady--if we all have a little of that quality, the world would be a better place.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Rev Lady, It would be wonderful Thanks so much for your comments and God Bless.

  • RevLady profile image


    7 years ago from Lantana, Florida

    A great article Pam and one that I learned a lot from. While reading it I thought how great the world would probably be if we all suffered a little from this condition.


    Forever His

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    marshacanada, You're right we do. We could learn something from these children. Thank you for your comment. Thanks for your comments.

    always exploring, It truly would. Thanks for your comment.

  • always exploring profile image

    Ruby Jean Richert 

    7 years ago from Southern Illinois

    Pamela, This is wonderful. These children look like angels. Wouldn't it be great if we all had that unconditional love? Thank you so much.

  • marshacanada profile image


    7 years ago from Vancouver BC

    Thanks for this information. Its new for me. Voted up and useful.We need more humans on earth who are loving and non judgemental.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    A.A. Zavala, I hope this hub will be helpful to her if her child has William Syndrome. I appreciate your comments.

  • A.A. Zavala profile image

    Augustine A Zavala 

    7 years ago from Texas

    I've never heard of this syndrome. Thank you sahring and the insights. I have a friend with a child who shares these characteristics. I'm sharing this with her.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Cardesa, It is similar to Down's Syndrome as far as it is a genetic disease but Down's has a defect on the 1st chromosome. Thanks for your comment.

    Becky, You may have meant someone that was not even diagnosed. I appreciate your comments.

    BK Creative, I didn't read information that discussed medication as related to research. It seemed that the research was more about music and what would keep their anxiety levels lower. I didn't really get the idea that these children were hard to control or would need medication to sedate them, at least I hope not. Thanks for your comment.

    Marcoujor, I'm glad you enjoyed the article and thank you for your comments.

    JY, I'm glad you learned about something new and I appreciate your comments.

  • JY3502 profile image

    John Young 

    7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

    Wow! Great article Pam. I have never heard of this. Very interesting material.

  • marcoujor profile image

    Maria Jordan 

    7 years ago from Jeffersonville PA


    Thank you so very much for this most informative article on a subject I did not know about. I am grateful to now have this as part of my knowledge base and will bookmark.

    Voted UP & UA-- hope all is well & have a good day, mar.

  • BkCreative profile image


    7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

    I wonder just how many people have this condition but have easily fit into society as simply being loving and unique. But then society dictates that we must fit only one profile - and then the labeling begins.

    You've taught me something today. I only hope that research does not means let's fill the children with drugs. That would not be a better life.

    Thanks for such a well done hub. Rated up as always.

  • Becky Puetz profile image


    7 years ago from Oklahoma

    This is so interesting. While I've never heard of this condition or disease, I know I've met a few people who fit this description over the years. Thanks for sharing this informative hub.

  • Cardisa profile image

    Carolee Samuda 

    7 years ago from Jamaica

    It sounds very similar to Down Syndrome. Very good information that we need to be aware of.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    vocalcoach, I am glad you enjoyed the hub and I appreciate your comments.

  • vocalcoach profile image

    Audrey Hunt 

    7 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

    Pamela - I had not heard of this and am so very interested. A very informed and well written hub about Williams Syndrome. Thank you very much for introducing me to this.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Cari, I'm glad you enjoyed learning about Williams Syndrome. Thanks for your comments.

    ethel, I think it would be difficult for the family like

    so many genetic diseases. Thank you for your comment.

  • ethel smith profile image

    Ethel Smith 

    7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

    Very interesting. I have not heard of this. How very worrying for the family.

  • Cari Jean profile image

    Cari Jean 

    7 years ago from Bismarck, ND

    Another great hub on a not-so-well-known condition. Thanks for teaching me something new today!


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