It is commonly reported that, despite the strong drive for social interaction, individuals with WS suffer with specific fears, repetitive behaviours and anxiety (e.g. fear of loud noises, or hurting oneself or others), but we don't really know why some suffer more than others. This research project was the first to examine the ability to adjust fear behaviour in response to changes in the environment in WS, and to find out how inflexibility and adherence to routines relate to problems in learning. We are excited to inform you about these new preliminary findings arising from this project.
First, our findings showed that young adults with WS have more difficulty when faced with changes in the environment, which we believe share some similarities to traits along the autism spectrum. These difficulties in flexibility may help to explain the increased anxieties and specific fears experienced by individuals with WS.
Second, the increased anxiety was associated with a thinking style that lacks tolerance for uncertainty (e.g. always wanting to know what the future has in store) in people with WS. In other words, some people with WS have difficulties in dealing effectively with uncertainty and believe that unpredictable environments are negative, harmful and should be avoided. This style of thinking is likely to increase anxiety in people with WS when faced with uncertain or unfamiliar events or circumstances.
These preliminary findings are important for treatments that encourage more flexible thinking in the face of unpredictability and may go some way to reducing anxiety and improving daily living skills in WS.
As is often the case in WS research, we are always looking for more people with WS to come forward and take part in our research, as with larger numbers we can be more confident in the validity of these findings.
What is involved in participating in this study?
If you are interested in participating in this exciting research project, please see our contact details below. We are very happy to answer any questions you may have. We are seeking parents of people with WS (aged 15+) who are willing to answer some behavioural questions via an online questionnaire. This takes approximately 45 minutes.
Who do I contact to discuss this study?
This study is being conducted by Sophie Mildren (Bachelor of Psychological Science, Honours) (firstname.lastname@example.org) under the supervision of Dr Darren Hocking (Senior Research Fellow, School of Psychology and Public Health. College of Science, Health and Engineering, La Trobe University). Sophie can be contacted via email or mobile number, 0423514750. Alternatively, you may contact the lead investigator, Dr Darren Hocking via Facebook or email: email@example.com for more information about this important study.