Talking to a Child’s Peers About Williams Syndrome

January 30, 2014

Social acceptance is very important for everyone, but particularly for individuals with special needs.

Many times, in the educational setting, social skills are not part of a general curriculum, yet these skills are vital for a positive environment.

The Williams Syndrome Changing Lives Foundation created age appropriate guides for explaining Williams syndrome to peers and classmates. Our hope is that these guides provide a general overview of an individual with Williams syndrome and answers questions that students and peers may have regarding Williams syndrome in an effort to provide a more positive educational experience.

We have three different guides for the various age levels of the “listener” to explain Williams syndrome. Each guide address information specific to the identified age group. We talk about differences and similarities of children with Williams syndrome and typical children and we also provide the parent a way to personalize these guides specific to their child. This has been proven to be a great way to answer questions from a child’s peer group and help them understand that we are all more alike thank different.

Guides are available for children of elementary school age, middle school age and high school age children. These guides help with acceptance in the classroom by peers by providing answers in a manner that is geared to their age level.

All parents want their child to be understood and accepted at school and in social situations. These are great tools to start the conversation and promote acceptance.

To access these great tools please visit

Penny Perez is the CEO and Founder of Williams Syndrome Changing Lives Foundation. Her responsibilities include the overall leadership and development of the organization. She reports to, and maintains a seat on the Board of Directors and is the main point of contact for the facilitation of the organizations programs.

Her other responsibilities include managing the organization’s financial operating budget, developing relationships locally and nationally, fund raising, creating awareness programs and ultimately facilitating assistance to individuals. She devotes approximately 50 hours a week in her position as CEO. Penny also serves on the Family Advisory Council for All Children’s Johns Hopkins Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Williams Syndrome Changing Lives Foundation began in August 2012 as a passion and a focus of Ms. Perez. As a parent of a child with Williams syndrome, she recognized and understood the struggles of parents managing the multiple daily medical, therapeutic, behavioral and developmental needs of childrenwith Williams syndrome. Ms. Perez wanted to help relieve some of the financial burden of others experiencing the same difficulties that she had realized with her son, Keith. For her, it was the beginning of Changing Lives.

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