The frustrated efforts of five blind men trying to picture an elephant by exploring its separate parts are like the perplexed experts from various fields, each from their own perspective, trying to identify the critical features of Williams syndrome (WS). How is it possible to conceptualize a group of children who test as though retarded, speak as though gifted, behave sometimes as though emotionally disturbed, and function like the learning disabled? This is one of the enigmas that parents, teachers, professionals, and researchers face as they try to rear, teach, treat, and study individuals with WS.
On a more optimistic note, many of the puzzling features of WS are being demystified by research on the physical, medical, genetic, psychological, neurobiological, and psycho-educational aspects of WS. Investigation of the linkage between genes, brain, and behavior is particularly timely as the medical and scientific communities have become increasingly interested in the genome project and the problems of genetic disorders like WS (Bellugi, Wang, & Jernigan, 1994; Harris, 1995b; Lenhoff, Wang, Greenberg, & Bellugi, 1997).
But, just what is WS? How does it manifest itself? How is it related to other developmental disorders? And what types of intervention approaches are successful in dealing with the unusual profile that characterizes WS? These are the basic issues addressed in this book.