Join CafeMom Today! Autism Spectrum Disorder: Treatments: Super-social gene may hold clues to autism, other disorders - TODAY Health - TODAY.com

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Super-social gene may hold clues to autism, other disorders - TODAY Health - TODAY.com

Super-social gene may hold clues to autism, other disorders - TODAY Health - TODAY.com

If they had their way, Tristan and Tyler Waldner would be friends with everybody.

The 7-year-old twins from San Diego, Calif., have Williams Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that makes them unusually social, so outgoing and gregarious that, to them, there's no such thing as a stranger.

At the library, on the playground, and even with surprise guests at dinner, the blond boys are charming and chatty, brimming with questions — “Where do you live? Did you drive here or fly here? Do you have kids?” — but with none of the shyness or social reserve you’d expect from typical second-graders.

“They love to meet new people,” explained the boys’ father, Fabian Waldner, 35, who has to watch them carefully in public. “We’ll be in a grocery store and they’ll just say ‘Hi’ to anybody who walks by.”

Researchers have puzzled over that extreme friendliness for decades, pondering the causes and complicated traits that go with the syndrome that affects 1 in every 10,000 people, says Ursula Bellugi, a researcher at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, Calif., who has studied the disorder for a quarter-century.

They've come to believe that Williams syndrome, which is characterized by unique genetic markers and distinct behaviors, may actually hold the secrets to understanding other better-known disorders — including autism.

More @ http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/44779678/ns/today-today_health/t/super-social-gene-may-hold-clues-autism-other-disorders/#.Tqa1vWpCo8k


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