Genie is socially, cognitively and physically developmentally delayed. Due to her severe isolation she has never learned to vocalize. Although she can visualize it is as if she has no sight due to the severe confinement she experienced. She displays physical oddities including walking like a bunny and spitting, due to her incapability to chew. For these ten years of solitary internment, Genie lived a severely malnourished lifestyle. Improper meals were forced into her body prohibiting Genie from cognitive and physical growth. Abused and unloved, this tragic and strange case illustrates the extreme importance of critical and sensitive periods. The critical and sensitive periods indicate the ideal time frame for language and motor development, after which further development becomes more difficult and effortful to acquire. Genie was isolated for the first ten years of her life; these are the most crucial years for developing ‘normally’.
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Nature and Nurture
Human beings need nurture in order to develop their full potential. Nature happens organically but nurture is how humans develop their personality, behaviour and intelligence. Humans are hardwired by nature and have the capability to develop fully but are restricted if proper nurture is not given. The time and attention that is essential for proper development was absent for most of Genies childhood. All humans are biologically given the capability to acquire new language, but Genie, at 13 years of age, can barely utter or understand a word. This indicates that although certain cognitive and behavioural skills are hardwired (nature), they must be enriched through the practice of loving and caring nurture.
Can anything be done to Help Genie?
Genie requires human contact and schooling. She needs to have psychological counselling and occupational rehabilitation to learn how to do simple tasks, such as eating, walking and speaking. Genie missed her most sensitive periods for functional development. Fortunately, for Genie language and motor acquisition can still be learned but at a slower pace than most 13 year olds. There is hope that Genie will be able to function as a normal individual, but that day is somewhere down the road. The critical and sensitive periods indicate the ideal time frame for language and motor development, after which further development becomes more difficult and effortful to acquire. There is hope that Genie will be able to function as a normal individual, but that day is somewhere down the road.
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