What Is Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) In Special Education?

What Is Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) In Special Education?

Most of the time, people with Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) have slight to moderate intellectual special needs along with learning inabilities. Research shows it occurs in almost one out of every 15,000 births. With the number of growing special needs cases, the special education courses aim at equipping teaching professionals and parents as well with necessary knowledge regarding the same to support the special needs child.

It was first described by Swiss doctors Andrea Prader, Alexis Labhart, and Heinrich Willi in 1956 and has no cure. However, treatment may recover consequences, particularly if carried out early. Therefore, early identification is crucial with the course to identify a special child in the classroom.

Causes Behind PWS

Based on different genetic testings, Prader-Willi Syndrome results from an abnormality of chromosome 15. Essentially, it is a condition produced by an error in one or more DNA segments. Nevertheless, the exact mechanisms for Prader-Willi syndrome haven't been known yet.


It arises because certain paternal genes –



In maximum cases, Prader-Willi syndrome is triggered by a random genetic error and is not hereditary.


Symptoms Of PWS

1. In infants, signs include weak muscles, poor feeding, and slow growth
2. During childhood, signs include feeling hungry continuously that may lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes
3. Mild to moderate intellectual special needs
4. Behavioral complications
5. Excessive dozing
6. Poor physical coordination
7. Delayed puberty
8. Intellectual interruption
9. Hypotonia
10. Learning disabilities
11. Late motor development
12. Hypogonadism
13. Specific facial features - almond-shaped eyes and a head that narrows at the temples
14. Strabismus
15. Genitals may not develop properly
16. Depigmentation


Additionally, psychiatric signs include hallucinations, paranoia and depression, etc. which have been pronounced in some cases. The indications of PWS change over time in individuals with the syndrome.

Other problems may include growth hormone deficiency/short stature, small hands and feet, scoliosis, sleep disturbances with excessive daytime sleepiness, high pain threshold, speech apraxia/dyspraxia, and infertility. People with PWS have a developed rate of tooth erosion than others. It is a spectrum special need and symptoms differ in severity and existence among people.


Diagnosis Of PWS

For the most part, PWS is being diagnosed with a blood test called a “methylation analysis.” This test identifies a wide range of PWS and is the preferred test for diagnosis. The added testing may be required to regulate whether PWS is instigated by a paternal deletion, UPD, or an imprinting mutation.

Typically, an individual with Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) has extreme trouble in controlling their body weight, as they eat continuously. They also have a strong compulsion to eat as much food as possible. PWS is the most common genetic root of morbid obesity in kids.


Contact a doctor in the following scenarios:


  • Trouble feeding at the toddler stage
  • Problems in waking up
  • A lack of response to normal stimulus
  • Floppiness when held
  • The continuous seeking of food
  • Rapid weight gain

    Usually, individuals with PWS need to follow a very severe diet with lower-calorie goals and need supervision throughout their lives. As we know till now it cannot be treated hence, early intervention and identification is a must with special needs teacher training. This helps in reducing the severe health consequences of PWS.

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