The Girl in the Window
When reading the article, the reader is first introduced to a seven year old girl named Danielle who is faced to live with terrible conditions for the rest of her life. Danielle weighed 46 pounds, and was malnourished and anemic when found by authorities. Danielle’s mental healthiness was of no difference. (Her caseworker determined that she had never been to school, never seen a doctor. She didn’t know how to hold a doll, didn’t understand peek-a-boo. “Due to the severe neglect,” a doctor would write, “the child will be disabled for the rest of her life. ) Danielle’s severe disorder had evolved to point where Danielle felt no pain or emotion; she couldn’t express her ideas or communicate. The neglect she faced ultimately led her to develop environmental autism. (The most extraordinary thing about Danielle, Armstrong said, was her lack of engagement with people, with anything. “There was no light in her eye, no response or recognition. . . . We saw a little girl who didn’t even respond to hugs or affection. Even a child with the most severe autism responds to those. “)
The peculiar attributes of Danielle earned her the name “feral child” coined for fictional characters found in stories such as Tarzan in which a human is nurtured and raised by animals. Danielle’s case does indeed prove it is essential for children to learn and develop language at the early years of life in which the brain is increasingly developing. (In the 1960s, psychologist Harry Harlow put groups of infant rhesus monkeys in a room with two artificial mothers. One made of wire, dispensed food. The other, of terrycloth, extended cradled arms. Though they were starving, the baby monkeys all climbed into the warm cloth arms. Primates need comfort even more than they need food,” Armstrong said. ) Danielle’s unfortunate disorder was caused by the neglect of her parents. As many studies have conducted, environmental and genetic factors play a key role in intelligence. Danielle is not able to communicate or sustain herself in any way; she cannot bathe, eat, brush her teeth, or even use the bathroom. She is an eight year old in diapers! As hypothesized by researchers and scientists, Danielle will most likely never be able to talk as the phase for learning language was long surpassed.
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One doctor stated (“My hope was that she would be able to sleep through the night, to be out of diapers and to feed herself,” Armstrong said. If things went really well, she said, Danielle would end up “in a nice nursing home. “) She eventually went on to live in a nice nursing home but she posed great work for the care takers. Seemed out of place, Danielle exhibited signs of selective mutism making her seem as an outcast or social pariah. Through tough times however, Danielle evolved until she had improved to a point she could become adopted; she would become a new member of the Lierow family household.
Today, Danielle lives a normal life like any individual; her perseverance and dedication led to her success. Through adversity, Danielle has become a new person. She has developed into a “human being” although she still has difficulties with linguistic tasks. (It is Diane and Bernie Lierow’s hope that by sharing Danielle’s story they can inspire others to adopt foster children like her. Right now there are approximately 300,000 American children in foster care who are hoping for a forever family to adopt them. They live each day with the hope of a better tomorrow. It is their courage and strength that the Lierow family wishes to recognize. )