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Teaching a child with Williams syndrome (WS) can be hugely rewarding, but can also present many challenges. In many ways, educationally, WS is a condition full of contradictions! These teacher guidelines will give you a starting point and may answer some questions you have about learners with WS. The information provided here is based on research carried out in Ireland with children with WS of primary-school age, their parents and their teachers. Some of these pupils were enrolled in special schools, some in mainstream schools and some in special classes attached to mainstream schools. While there are equal numbers of boys and girls diagnosed with WS, for the purpose of text fluency, the learner will be referred to as ‘she’ throughout.
No matter what you read about learners with WS you are unlikely to meet a ‘textbook’ case. WS is only one part of her learning profile. She will have traits related to her family, she will have specific interests, likes and dislikes and she may have learning needs NOT related to WS. There is significant variability in people with WS. While the information here will hopefully be of some use, the pupil you are teaching is an individual and you must get to know her as a learner. It is worth being aware of the guiding principles for teaching a learner with WS as they relate strongly to the Williams syndrome inclusive learning profile: a framework which may support you with the individual education planning process for the learner with WS
If you require specific support or advice in relation to the education of a student with WS please e-mail Fionnuala Tynan, Educational Researcher and Consultant to the Williams Syndrome Association of Ireland firstname.lastname@example.org
A teacher-support group was set up in May 2014. It currently meets once a year. Please contact Fionnuala at the above email address for details.
Current Educational Research
Research is currently underway on the use of individual education plans for learners with WS at post-primary level (whether in mainstream settings or special settings). If you are interested in participating please contact Fionnuala Tynan on email@example.com
© Fionnuala Tynan