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13 Truths People Affected by Williams Syndrome Wish Others Understood

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Approximately one in every 10,000 people worldwide lives with Williams syndrome, according to the Williams Syndrome Association. The rare genetic condition is characterized by learning difficulties and developmental delays as well as medical complications like cardiovascular disease. But people with the condition also tend to be highly social, kindhearted and have affinities for language and music.

The Mighty wanted to learn more about what it’s like to live with Williams syndrome, so we teamed up with the Williams Syndrome Association, an organization that supports families and individuals living with the condition. The group asked its Facebook community to share one thing they want people to know about Williams syndrome.

Here are some of the responses:

1. “Individuals with Williams syndrome can teach us all that despite their struggles, they manage to smile and enjoy life. [That’s] something a lot of people forget. People with Williams syndrome have the most contagious smile and a zest for life that most people lack.” — Sylvia Navarro

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2. “[I wish people understood] how easily our children can be bullied. Their hearts are made of gold, which sadly makes them easy targets for bullies.” — Erica Guzman

3. “All children with or without Williams syndrome want and need the same things — love and acceptance.” — Lorraine C. Evans

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4. “You will never meet another person like someone with Williams syndrome. [These people] are… the brightest souls on earth with the biggest hearts.” — Tammy Barry

5. “Not all individuals with Williams syndrome are the same. They are all unique and have a wide range of abilities. Their personalities and behavior vary.” — Jessica Fountain Peterson 

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6. “The sunshine and sincere, genuine love for life and for people that radiate in individuals with Williams syndrome is indescribable.” — Erin Kaplan Rupolo

7. “The most difficult challenges will be far outmatched by the greatest rewards they bring into your life. Every accomplishment and milestone is met with immeasurable joy that you would never experience with anyone else. They will surprise you with their love, generosity and happiness when you least expect it, and you will be infected by it.” — Richard A Williams Jr.

8. “‘Different’ can have huge positive attributes.” — Julie Hayden

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9. “My son has such a true deep love for people, sometimes after only knowing them a few minutes. I wish more ‘typically developing’ people were the same. Can you imagine the peace and joy that would fill the world?” — Maggie Garrison

10. “Williams syndrome is a complex collection of heartbreak, heart-busting joy, extreme physical and cognitive challenges and amazing talent. [People with Williams syndrome are] extraordinary human beings with such profound capacity to love and ability to express happiness that the strangers around them often stop in their tracks and smile.” — Nancy Paslay

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11. “[People with Williams syndrome] want to be everyone’s best friend — but really, they just want to be accepted the way others are.” — Heather Gilbert O’Connell 

12. “[Many people with Williams syndrome] have great memory skills, crave and excel with a set routine, love any and all get togethers because it nurtures their huge social side. The world is a much better place because of them.” — Marianne Mepham Newton

13. “Don’t think [Williams syndrome] is the end of the world. It’s the beginning of a long adventure.” — Delores Carr

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*Some responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Originally published: August 26, 2015
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