Williams syndrome: On being hypersocial and racially blind

Young children of various races, singing together in a classroom. Children with Williams syndrome don't show racial biases, according to studies.

If Williams syndrome means children don't have racial biases, what's wrong with that? (Photo: ThinkStock)

If your young child doesn’t have any racial biases, it could be that they possess a rare genetic disorder called Williams syndrome, reports the New York Daily News. Behavioral therapists indicate that most of us develop a preference for people of our own ethnic group by the time we’re three years old. Whether this falls on the nature or nurture side of the equation is a debate that may never end, but children diagnosed with Williams syndrome appear to be free of racial bias, according to Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg of Germany’s University of Heidelberg. Tests indicate that Williams syndrome kids attribute neither friendliness nor naughtiness more often to any one race, which is quite different than the results turned in on the same tests by non-Williams syndrome kids, who attribute more favorable characteristics to photos of children of the same race.

Williams syndrome kids tend to be hypersocial

The lack of a gene might sound serious, and some scientists feel that this element of Williams syndrome is indeed serious. Williams syndrome children do not operate based upon racial bias and are hypersocial, so social anxiety is unknown to them. If they could apply for payday loans, they wouldn’t be afraid to ask. These children are highly verbal and overly social. Yet Meyer-Lindenberg cautions that another element to this condition is that these children are unable to discern social danger signals. Thus, they may not be able to pick up on some of the more subtle social signs that another person means to enact violence upon them. This lack of “common sense” when it comes to body language is also accompanied by more overt signs like mental retardation, heart defects and unusual facial features, according to Wikipedia.

Williams syndrome difficulties aren’t unassailable, says Meyer-Lindenberg

Part of social interaction is learned, believes Meyer-Lindenberg, so Williams syndrome does not make it impossible for an affected child to learn in order to protect themselves. And who among us would consider being able to socialize easily a handicap? Aside from other Williams syndrome side-effects like mental retardation, heart defects and non-standard facial features, things aren’t bad. We could all stand to be more comfortable in social situations, because it is there that humanity strives to its fullest extent to grow and change. Social interaction is a dynamic pathway leading toward humanity’s evolution. We get by with a little help from our friends …  and quick payday loans, now and then.

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