Imagine if your child trusted everyone, unconditionally. It sounds like fiction, but for parents of children with Williams syndrome, it can be a nightmare that demands eternal vigilance against a dangerous world. NPR profiles one family with a 9-year-old daughter, Isabelle, who has Williams and consequently feels no social fear. In a typical episode, Isabelle got into another family's car and buckled up after hearing the mother say they were going to Dairy Queen.
"I can think of times when we were at the pool and I turn around to talk to someone, and I see her practically sitting on some man's lap at the pool, and he looks very uncomfortable," Isabelle's mother says. "And I just think: This is not good." Researchers theorize that Williams arises from a problem with ocytocin, a hormone that regulates trust. It can also manifest as a problem with permanent disorientation. Thankfully, experts tell Isabelle's parents there is hope—in adulthood, sufferers can recognize dangerous situations intellectually, even if they still don't feel social fear.