The Quality of Everyday Eye Contact in Williams Syndrome: Insights From Cross-Syndrome Comparisons

Am J Intellect Dev Disabil. 2022 Jul 1;127(4):293-312. doi: 10.1352/1944-7558-127.4.293.


Past research shows that individuals with Williams syndrome (WS) have heightened and prolonged eye contact. Using parent report measures, we examined not only the presence of eye contact but also its qualitative features. Study 1 included individuals with WS (n = 22, ages 6.0-36.3). Study 2 included children with different neurodevelopmental (ND) conditions (WS, autism spectrum condition, fragile X syndrome, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) and children with neurotypical development (NT; n = 262, ages 4.0-17.11). Unusual eye contact features, including staring, were found in approximately half of the WS samples. However, other features such as brief glances were frequently found in WS and in all ND conditions, but not NT. Future research in ND conditions should focus on qualitative as well as quantitative features of eye contact.

Keywords: Williams syndrome; cross-syndrome comparison; eye contact; neurodevelopmental condition.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders*
  • Williams Syndrome*
  • Young Adult