We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Angelman Syndrome?

Mary McMahon
Updated Jan 29, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Angelman Syndrome (AS) is a genetic disorder which affects the nervous system. Patients can manifest a variety of symptoms, ranging from seizures to profound developmental delays. Because Angelman Syndrome is genetic in nature, there is no cure, with treatment focused on supportive therapies which help the patient to live a healthy and happy life. Typically, people with Angelman Syndrome require care throughout their lives, although they may gain some measure of independence with supportive help.

This condition is caused by a deletion of genetic material on chromosome 15. As a general rule, Angelman Syndrome is not inherited; the deletion is caused by random chromosomal abnormalities. While it is potentially possible for the chromosome deletion to be passed between generations, this is fairly rare. Unless parents specifically test for that deletion when they request prenatal testing, they may be unaware that the child has Angelman Syndrome until developmental delays begin to be observed.

Several characteristics are universal to all AS patients. They experience profound developmental delays, along with movement disorders which make it difficult to walk and perform fine motor tasks. Angelman Syndrome also causes people to have very short attention spans, and personalities which seem unusually happy. The frequent laughter and smiles in people with Angelman Syndrome are believed to be the result of excessive motor responses.

Some patients also experience seizures, sleep disorders, difficulty sleeping, and microcephaly, a condition which causes the head to be unusually small. Many also have hypopigmentation, which causes them to be very pale, with light hair and eyes. The combined symptoms associated with Angelman Syndrome can make it very difficult for patients to navigate the outside world, as they struggle to communicate and understand the events around them.

Angelman Syndrome is named for Dr. Harry Angelman, an English physician who first described the condition in 1965. It is also known as Happy Puppet Syndrome. However, this term for the condition is generally deemed offensive, though it may be an accurate description of what an Angelman patient looks like, at first glance. With focused support from therapists, medical professionals, parents, and assistants, someone with Angelman Syndrome can learn the rudiments of communication, and he or she may be able to live a full, rich, happy life surrounded by caring family members and friends.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By Lostnfound — On Aug 16, 2014

What is the lifespan for a person with Angelman Syndrome? I can't imagine it would be a normal one. That might not be a bad thing, if the parents can reasonably expect to outlive their child. It would certainly ensure the child received good care for his or her whole life.

I also wonder if there are any support groups available for these parents. Maybe they would attend something for parents who have children who are mentally disabled, for any reason. I'd think I would want something like that available if I had a special needs child.

By Grivusangel — On Aug 15, 2014

Probably one of the blessings of this syndrome is that the person who has it will never realize how limited they are. Some mentally retarded people understand that others will achieve goals they can never attain, but those with Angelman Syndrome will never know the difference. They will never feel dissatisfied with themselves or with their lives. They will never feel limited. There's something to be said for living a life in that way.

I wonder if they are able to be taught basic self-care, like toileting themselves and feeding themselves. That would certainly make their caregivers' lives easier.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.