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...
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