Williams Syndrome is one of the rarest forms of Mental Retardation. An estimate 5,000 to 25,000 people in the Untied states alone have this disease, which is sometimes called Elfin-face Syndrome. The disease, like any form of mental retardation, isn't a pleasant one. With it comes the obvious learning disabilities, heart problems (often a narrowing of the aorta), and more. However, it's one of the view that has a positive note to it. Many WS kids are blessed with musical talents that would make members of *NSYNC blush. Also, when it comes to approaching strangers and starting a conversation, not only are they unafraid, they"re bound and determined to do it.
Williams Syndrome is caused when one of the copies of chromosome 7 is missing a small portion, which contains at least 16, maybe even 30 genes (Bower 2000). WS kids all tend to have similar facial features, so much so that no matter the age, many could be twins. These facial features include a small upturned nose, a long upper lip length, wide mouth, full lips, small chins and puffiness around the eyes. WS kids with blue and green eyes also have a starburst pattern in their iris. On top of the heart problems, many with WS have an elevated blood calcium levels and hyperacusis (sensitive hearing.) .
It's not uncommon for children with WS to develop slower than their peers. Often times they do not begin speaking, walking and even toilet training until after their third year. They can also be easily distracted, but this passes as they get older. Once the child does start speaking, they often don't stop. It's not uncommon for a WS child's first words to be an entire sentence. Once the first sentence is uttered, they continue to talk as if they"d been doing it all along.
Motor skills in WS kids are lacking. Some can't tie their own shoes or even use a knife. However, their vocabulary is usually quite large, even if they don't know the meaning of what they"re saying.