Williams Syndrome Association Ireland

WISHES – New Book WS Learners

Recently MIC lecturer Fionnuala Tynan launched new book that has been described as “a must-have guide” for all parents and professionals working with people with Williams Syndrome.    This message is based on MIC’s press release about the event and provides a good introduction to this wonderful book and the great research underway in MIC under Fionnuala’s direction.

WiSHES – Williams Syndrome Holistic Educational Strategies – is written by Fionnuala who is a Lecturer in the Department of Reflective Pedagogy and Early Childhood Studies at MIC.  This is first book in Europe to be published on promoting inclusive learning in children with Williams Syndrome (WS). The book outlines a way forward for supporting learners with WS and moves away from a medical model of disability to a more holistic profile that acknowledge the biological, social and psychological aspects of learners with Williams Syndrome.

While primarily focused on learners of primary and post-primary school age, much of the book is relevant for younger learners and for those who have left school. The book’s underlying belief is that individuals with WS have a wide range of talents and learning abilities which need to be developed to enable high quality and lifelong learning to take place.

According to Fionnuala,  “Williams Syndrome is currently under-diagnosed in Ireland – its rarity means that parents and professionals often struggle to know how best to support the individual. WiSHES is full of strategies for promoting learning in all aspects of the child’s life. I have the privileged experience of having a brother with WS and the book is based on my personal as well as professional experiences. It is the culmination of nine years of research with individuals with Williams Syndrome, their parents, siblings, teachers, principals and inclusion support assistants.”

Continuing she said: “I could not be happier or prouder to have launched this book. The response has been overwhelming. I have had requests from parents and teachers in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Spain and Slovakia, wondering how they can get the book. Their hunger to support a child with WS is hugely encouraging. I feel very privileged to be involved in the lives of so many inspiring people with WS who continue to challenge the way I think about education. My ‘WiSH’ for this book is that it will enable parents and professionals to work together to best support a child with WS. I also ‘WiSH’ that parents of a newly diagnosed baby will see they have much to look forward to and a child who is full of incredible potential.”

Congratulating Fionnuala on her new book Dr Patricia Daly, Head of the Department of Educational Psychology, Inclusive and Special Education, MIC said: “Now and again we are really lucky when a book like this is published that fills a particular niche in a unique way. There is a need for basic information on Williams syndrome for families and educationalists. More importantly, we need to know how to best support individual children and young people with WS in fun, meaningful, interesting, appropriate and creative ways. This book does that.”

WiSHES is published by the Curriculum Development Unit (CDU) at MIC. Congratulating Fionnuala on her new book Eucharia McCarthy, Director of CDU said: “We are delighted to add this unique and rich text to our growing suite of resources to support inclusive and special education. From all of us here in CDU we want to commend Dr Fionnuala Tynan on her long term dedication to improving outcomes for children with Williams Syndrome and her passion and commitment that permeates every page of this book.”

Speaking about the support she received from her colleagues at MIC Fionnuala said: “I consider myself very lucky to be in a work environment that supports my work on behalf of individuals with WS and to be surrounded by friends and colleagues who are generous in their enthusiasm for my projects. MIC is home to a week-long summer camp for children with WS and their siblings. Students from the B Ed programme volunteer at this camp and can use it in tandem with the summer camp for adults with WS as their alternative education experience.”

The book was launched during the first national symposium on Williams Syndrome which was held in Mary Immaculate College on Saturday 24 November. The day-long event, funded by AdaptPharma (Dublin) and PRISEM (MIC), had sessions for parents, professionals and also people with WS.

Speaking after the event Fionnuala said: “The feedback from parents was hugely positive. Some had travelled from as far as Belfast to learn new ways to support their child with WS. This highlights the void in supports for parents of rare conditions. Attendees were delighted with the inclusive nature of the symposium, which allowed for parents, family members and professionals to come together and where they left with practical ideas for helping their child with WS to reach his/her potential.”