Few people know that Colin Farrell's 7-year-old son, James, has a rare neuro-genetic disorder called Angelman Syndrome. During a recent interview on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," the Irish actor revealed the little boy was diagnosed because of his fascination with water.
"James is kind of obsessed with water," Farrell told DeGeneres. "He's not a great swimmer but he just loves being close to it and in and around it. It's one of the characteristics of the condition that he has."
According to Farrell, "The doctor saw him one day and said, 'Is he always this happy ... and does he always kind of flap his arms like that? And we said, 'Yes.' And he said, 'And how does he feel about water?' and we said, 'Oh, water's fascinating (to him).' He went, 'Has he been tested for Angelman Syndrome?' We didn't know what that was."
James' mother is his ex-girlfriend Kim Bordenave; Farrell first spoke publicly about James' diagnosis in October 2007, telling the Irish Independent he was "incredibly blessed to have him in my life." At the time, James -- then 4 years old -- had just learned to walk.
"When he took the first steps it was incredibly emotional, there wasn't a dry eye in the house," he said.
The condition, which has no cure, is characterized by delays in development and severe speech impairment, according to the Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics. Some children who have Angelman walk before the age of 3, most walk later, and others never learn to walk at all. Most have happy temperaments and an attraction to water.
"If James gets upset at home I can get a pot and put some water in it. It's really beautiful because water is such a pure element ... there's something really profound about it," Farrell shared.
There is hope for those affilicted with Angelman Syndrome, and for the families that care for them: research is very close to a cure. To learn more about AS, and how you can help, visit CureAngelman.org.