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Durham University



Publication details for Professor Deborah Riby

Lough, E., Rodgers, J., Janes, E., Little, K. & Riby, D. M. (2016). Parent insights into atypicalities of social approach behaviour in Williams syndrome. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research 60(11): 1097-1108.

Author(s) from Durham


Individuals with Williams syndrome have been reported to show high levels of social interest and a desire to interact with others irrespective of their familiarity. This high social motivation, when combined with reduced intellectual capacity and a profile of atypical social behaviour, is important in terms of social vulnerability of individuals with the disorder. Therefore, social approach to unfamiliar people and the role of this behaviour within the Williams syndrome (WS) social phenotype warrant further research to inform social skills' intervention design.

The current study used parent interviews (n = 21) to probe aspects of social behaviour and interactions with strangers, as well as the impact of such behaviour on the family. Using thematic analysis, it was possible to explore themes that emerged from the interviews, offering qualitatively rich insight into the variability of social approach behaviour in WS.

Thematic analysis confirmed a significant desire to interact with strangers as well as a lack of awareness of appropriate social boundaries. However, parental reports about their child's social approach behaviour varied considerably. The within-syndrome variability of the sample was emphasised in parental reports of their child's personality characteristics (e.g. levels of impulsiveness), as well as the level of parental supervision employed.

These in-depth parent insights can help target the needs of individuals with WS and emphasise that an individual approach to intervention will be essential because of the heterogeneity of the WS social profile.

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