The Wild Boy of Aveyron
On January 9, 1800, a strange creature emerged from the woods, close to the village of Saint-Sernin in southern France. This poor specimen, appeared to be a boy, a very wild boy, who was almost naked, covered in scars, with matted hair and only capable of strange animal like cries. The whole village, hearing about the wild boys appearance, stampeded down to the the terraced garden of the tanner, who had captured the boy digging vegetables from his garden.
It soon became apparent however, that the boy was mute, had no understanding of language or social norms and conventions. He would pick cooking potatoes straight from the live coals and eat them. He would also relive himself wherever he stood and disdained the wearing of clothes.
A young physician, Jean Marc Gaspard Itard, became interested in the case and named the boy Victor. Itard, also came to believe that Victor had lived for seven years alone in the wilderness, from the age of five to twelve.
Soon, Victor, was taken to an orphnage and given a job shelling peas, this he did; placing the peas in a symmetrical pile.Victor was not deaf and when taught was able to understand some "action language". He did not however, seem to understand the difference between hot and cold and would roll naked in the snow, though he soon came to adore the feel of the house keepers velvet dress.
It is believed by many experts, like Professor Uta Frith, that Victor showed the signs of autism.
The Wild Child
By My Self
The world autism, comes from the Greek word which means "self".
Autism is a complex disorder, which has three core features, which exist along a spectrum, from severe to mild. These core attributes are:
1. Social interaction difficulties.
2. Impairment of verbal and non-verbal communication.
3. Repetitive behaviour and/or narrow range of interests.
Autism, generally appears in children by the age of 18 months. However there is no unified view on the causes. Recent research has revealed possible mitochondrial dysfunction and genetic copy variations.
However, there seems to be no single cause.
People who suffer from autism can be highly intelligent and high functioning. People like: Hans Christian Andersen , Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Isaac Newton, it has been speculated, may have had Asperger syndrome, a milder form of autism (and many other historical figures).
Above all else however, people with autism spectrum disorders are unique individuals like anyone else, with a varying range of strengths and weaknesses.
Savant Skills ?
Recovery and Improvement
In 1981, Dr. Ivar Lovaas, a UCLA researcher, published a book called "The Me Book". This book, based on his early intensive behavior intervention, had recovered 47% of children, who had engaged in 40 hours a week of structured, one on one, behavioural therapy. This recovered group of children, were able to function in normal classrooms.
In 1993, another book emerged called "Let me Hear Your Voice", by Catherine Maurice, who had two children descend into autism. Inspired by the Lovaas intervention, Maurice used this method, with her own children and was able to recover both her son and daughter. The book is truly moving, incredibly honest and in the end inspiring. Today the lovaas method has evolved into Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and has become a foundation of much autism treatment.
Recently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, announced that autism rates are now showing that 1 in 88 children in the United States is being diagnosed with autism. Perhaps, this is due to an increase in identification and labeling of the disorder, or other unknown factors.
Autism however, brings a significant amount of stress to a family, as well as a sense of grief and loss in many cases, so if you know someone dealing with autism in their family be thoughtful and be kind.