Individuals with Williams Syndrome face a lot of difficulties. However, they are born with an incredible “superpower” that I believe is way undervalued and overlooked in our society. They are born with a talent for being kind.
What Is Williams Syndrome?
Williams Syndrome is a genetic condition that is characterized by cardiovascular anomalies and developmental disabilities. According to Williams Syndrome Association, it affects 1 in 10,000 people in the world, and is not exclusive to a particular gender or culture. Heart defects are a common problem among these individuals, and they can also have unusual facial features. They are generally considered to have “Elfin’ faces” due to their full lips, wide-spaced teeth, depressed nasal bridge, and broad forehead. (Due to copyright purposes, I can’t legally show you a picture for an example. Google it sometime!)
They are also known for having “stars in their eyes” due to a star-like pattern in the iris. Infants with Williams Syndrome may have difficulty feeding or chronic middle ear infections, which can both be problematic for their health. They may have mild to severe intellectual disabilities, developmental delays, musculoskeletal problems, elevated blood calcium levels, or increased risks for ADHD or anxiety disorders.
However, individuals with WS are extremely friendly and talkative. They love to be social and are super extroverted. They have high language skills, but this can lead to a lack of social constraint due to how friendly they are toward strangers. They have difficulty with pragmatics, meaning that they have trouble understanding nonverbal gestures and listening rather than talking in a conversation. They may have restricted or repetitive interests or have difficulty interpreting abstract language. Interestingly enough, these individuals may have an unusually strong aptitude for music.
What Can We Learn From Them?
God created these beautiful individuals for a purpose. They are not flawed, they are wonderfully and fearfully made. Yes, they may have to endure a lot of hardships and difficulties. But they have mastered the concept of loving people. They want to be friends with everyone they meet. They aren’t worried about what other people think of them and they don’t fear rejection from striking up a conversation. They don’t hold back their friendliness. They spread joy. They love to dance. They have beautiful souls and they just want to talk to you.
We have so much to learn from these individuals.
Don’t Be Afraid to Say Hello.
“Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” – A Cinderella Story. This is a great quote because we should never let the fear of failure or mistakes to keep us from trying. Don’t be worried about your pride or potential embarrassment. Say hi to people! Embrace some wisdom from those with WS and learn to be friendly.
Love On Anyone and Everyone.
Individuals with WS are open to talk to whomever they come in contact with. Even strangers are potential friends, and their kind hearts are welcoming and loving. They are typically quick to help people and are empathetic to those who are hurting. In the video below, you can watch as the toddler with WS reaches out to comfort a fallen stranger unlike most children his age. While it is important to have constraints for safety purposes, I think we can learn a lot about unconditional love from these individuals. How often does your kindness correlate with your opinion of someone? How often do you knowingly or unknowingly judge someone or treat someone differently based on an assumption or stereotype? Kindness is free, and the world needs more of it. Let’s be open to sharing it.
I am in no way trying to trivialize the syndrome or the difficulties that can go along with it. People with WS are people just like you and me. They also need your support, love, and special treatment/therapy to help them with their medical and social concerns. But we can also learn a thing or two from their openness. We can learn how to be more kind.
What are some more things we could learn from Williams Syndrome? What are other disabilities/syndromes/conditions that could teach us kindness or other valuable life lessons? Let me know in the comments!
For more posts related to kindness, check out the rest of the series