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wild boy of Aveyron

a supposed feral child found, at about age 12, living in the woods near Aveyron in southern France around 1800 and studied by French physician Jean-Marc-Gaspard Itard. The boy, whom Itard named Victor, could utter speech sounds but not words, rocked when seated, trotted when upright, and had a limited attention span; on the basis of these signs, it has recently been suggested that Victor was autistic. Itard devised an intensive educational program, including sensory stimulation and repetitive physical exercises, to teach Victor social awareness, speech comprehension, and literacy. Although the results of this endeavor were disappointing—after 5 years, Victor was able to speak, read, and write only some words and phrases and was marginally socialized—Itard’s effort is considered an important early development in the special education of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Itard’s influence was subsequently advanced through the work of his student, Édouard Séguin, and Maria Montessori’s approach to the education of all children was founded in part on the methods introduced by both men. Victor himself became the subject of numerous books and articles, beginning with work published by Itard in 1801 and 1807 and extending to present-day literature by both scholars and popular writers alike. His life and education with Itard have also been dramatized on film and television. Victor died in Paris in 1828. See also wolf children.

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Psychology term of the day

June 18th 2024