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Williams Syndrome Association of SA
PO Box 19113
Tecoma, 5214
East London, South Africa

Hi everybody! I'm Henry van Zyl

I am five years old and live on a farm in Trawal (Klawer area in the Western Cape). When I went for my 6 week check up at the paediatrician he noticed that I had a heart murmur. He sent me to doctor Joan Hunter (a pediatric cardiologist at Louis Leipoldt Medical Centre in Bellville) who did a “heart sonar”. She sent me for blood tests and Williams Syndrome was diagnosed because of the elastin deletion detected by the FISH test. She prescribed heart medication (a beta blocker which I am still taking four times a day). They will have to operate on my heart at a later stage, but the medication keeps my blood pressure and the pressure inside my heart stable and at an acceptable level.

I go to the cardiologist and paediatrician once a year. I also go for my annual occupational therapy evaluation at the same time because they are all in Bellville and we live about 300km away. I go to physiotherapy once a month in Vredendal (our nearest big town).

I sat by myself and crawled for the first time when I was about 10 months old. I started walking without holding onto something when I was 17 months old. Before that I spent a few months practicing my walking skills with a wooden cart. My first words were “pappa” and “ouma” when I was about a year old. After that my vocabulary developed rapidly. I found English easier to learn although our home language is Afrikaans. All my friends are Afrikaans and I mostly speak Afrikaans now, but I teach them a few English words from time to time.

I go to a play school in Klawer. I love going because all my friends go there too and we play and learn together. I am in the 3-5 year class and we go to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Next year I am going to grade R and then we go to school on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I can count to thirty in English and Afrikaans and know most of my colors and shapes. I am also making very good progress in coloring and painting. My climbing has also improved a lot since we moved to the farm three years ago. I love climbing onto tractors and bakkies and the play gyms at school. I also love it when my teacher teaches us new songs and rhymes. I am very good at learning words and tunes. Last year I was a mouse at our school concert.

I am a very fussy eater – my favorite foods are ProNutro cereal, meat, tomatoes and bread. I do not want to eat any sweets except for my daily block of plain milk chocolate.

I go to bed about ten o'clock in the evening when I had a nap in the afternoon. Other times I go to bed about nine o'clock or earlier depending on how active I was during the day. I rarely wake during the night and usually I sleep till about seven o'clock in the morning.


Henry van Zyl