Williams Syndrome and the Brain; Uncommon Genius; Exclusive Online Issues; by Howard M. Lenhoff, Paul P. Wang, Frank Greenberg and Ursula Bellugi; 5 Page(s)
When a teenager with an IQ of just 49 was asked to draw an elephant and tell what she knew about the animal, her sketch was almost indecipherable. But her description was impressively rich, even lyrical. As part of that description, she noted, "It has long, gray ears, fan ears, ears that can blow in the wind...."
In her verbal ability, that young woman is fairly typical of people who have Williams syndrome, a rare condition that has recently started to draw the attention of a range of scientists. Affected individuals, sometimes called Williams people, are not all alike but often are similar to one another. They are frequently diagnosed as mildly to moderately "retarded" and generally score below average on standard IQ tests. They usually read and write poorly and struggle with simple arithmetic. Yet they display striking strengths in some realms. They generally demonstrate a facility not only for spoken language but also for recognizing faces. And, as a group, they tend to be empathetic, loquacious and sociable.