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What is Williams Syndrome? Interview with Dr Fionnuala Tynan from WSAI (Audio)

Dr Fionnuala Tynan with her brother Jarlath Tynan. Image credit: Dr Fionnuala Tynan

This week, The Circular aims to shed light about a lesser known condition called Williams Syndrome.

Williams syndrome (WS) is a condition that a person has from before they are born. It is caused by missing genetic material on chromosome number seven. It is a ‘genetic hiccup’.

Having WS means that the person is likely to be very sociable, friendly, musical and compassionate. People with WS typically have learning needs and high anxiety. But every person with WS is different, each is an individual with their own strengths, interests and challenges.

There is approximately one person in every 20,000 people in Ireland with WS. However, in Ireland, WS is under-diagnosed; this means there are many people who live with the condition and don’t know they have it.

To get further insight on the matter, The Circular is proud to host Dr Fionnuala Tynan, a Lecturer in the Department of Reflective Pedagogy and Early Childhood Studies and Programme Co-ordinator of Graduate Certificate in Autism Studies at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. She is also a board member at the Williams Syndrome Association of Ireland (WSAI).

She did her doctorate on the educational inclusion of children with WS in Ireland and published a book WiSHES (Williams Syndrome: Holistic Educational Strategies) in November 2018. The book has been purchased by parents and professionals as far away as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, US, India and Spain.

The WSAI has a number of events each year which include: an annual weekend away for families, an annual picnic, Junior summer camp and more.

Dr Fionnuala runs the junior and sibling camps at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. She is also a researcher on WS and presents nationally and internationally on the subject. Her 36-year-old brother Jarlath Tynan (pictured above) sometimes presents with her as well.

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