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'Super-Social Gene,' and 'Williams Syndrome,' May Hold Clues to Autism, Etc. - featured October 25, 2011

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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.”

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Tags: News of the Week Autism Newsletter 28 October 2011