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Speech Acquisition Theories

1122 words - 5 pages

he developmental process of the human mind has proven to be quite the complex scenario, as is displayed in Genie Wiley’s case. Genie is a girl, born in 1957, who was socially isolated from the world around her. Locked in a room for the better part of 13 years, Genie never learned acceptable social interaction behavior. This traumatic experience allegedly had adverse effects on Genie’s social capacity.
Genie, a name given to her by caregivers following her discovery, spent the first 13 years of her life strapped to a children’s potty chair or crib. In itself, being isolated for that long would be an extremely traumatic experience, let alone strapped to a chair or bed, immobilized. There is little information as to why this poor girl was tortured so heinously, but many speculate that her parents believed she was mentally ill or handicapped. After being discovered, the abuse didn’t cease in the eyes of many. She went from being socially isolated and alone nearly 24 hours a day, to being under constant watch and testing. Scientists did indeed have Genie’s best interest at heart, but being naturally curious, and seeing Genie’s situation as an opportunity to gain insight in the way the human brain develops, they sometimes lost sight of the fact that she was, in fact, a human being. Without ever knowing if Genie was born with a mental disability, Scientists’ collected data and performed experiments that could possibly be discounted because, like was stated in class “apples and oranges.” Comparing Genie on a scale with other children her age would be unfair, and skew the data results.
While quite a bizarre story Genie’s is, it is not the first reported case of feral children being discovered. Some time around the turn of the 18th century, a boy was found in the woods near the French village of Saint-Sernin-sur-Rance. This boy, later given the name Victor, was estimated to be about the age of 12. Like Genie, Victor was a very fascinating “subject” for the people of the area, being subjected to testing and attempts at education. After many failed attempts at total social integration, both Victor and Genie were adopted into the homes of people who cared for them. Unlike Victor, however, Genie was shuffled around between foster homes, her mother, and Jean Butler, a scientist who studied her but showed an overall concern for Genie’s well-being over scientific understanding. While these similarities are quite parallel, there are many factors that are different in each case that resulted in maybe a more successful attempt at educating Genie. Victor was found in the wild, with no signs of any human to human interactions, while Genie grew up in a more “controlled” environment. Genie grew up isolated from the world around her, but not completely shut out from human interactions and speech. She would have had to be fed at least a few times a week and one can only assume that she had encountered some speech, whether it be positive or negative. Nevertheless,...

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