Case Study: Genie Essay

Case Study: Genie Essay

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While a mother was escaping an abusive relationship in search of welfare assistance, she took her thirteen-year-old daughter along with her. “Genie,” as she was called, intrigued the social worker in the welfare office. She was mesmerized by Genie’s posture, size, and stance. Curiously enough, the worker thought Genie might have been a case of unreported autism in a possible six- to seven-year-old (Rymer 1993). As a result, the worker notified her supervisor, who contacted the police.
When Genie was first brought to the hospital for tests, she weighed only fifty-nine pounds. She was incontinent, could not chew solid food, could barely swallow, and could not focus her eyes beyond twelve feet. She salivated persistently and spat erratically. In addition, she could not hop, skip, climb, or even stand erect. Most importantly, she could not speak, only whine.
If I had been the first person to find Genie, I would have attempted to communicate with her in some way. I may have tried signing to her or using child-directed speech. More than likely, I would not have made much progress with either of those, so it would be likely that I would have done exactly what the social worker did…call the police for help and possibly an ambulance for medical attention.
Since Genie was denied human contact for most of her childhood, one of the first things she needs is one-on-one contact with a person. Vygotsky’s idea of the zone of proximal development would be beneficial so Genie could learn how to interact with someone, while learning how to master certain skills. Genie would also need to understand that certain behaviors (i.e., urinating, spitting, etc.) are not socially acceptable. Additionally, it would be helpful for Genie to be...

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...tually responsible for language in right-handed people. Further testing indicated that Genie used her right hemisphere for not only language, but also nonlanguage functions. As a result of further testing, Curtiss raised the question that there may be a critical period for development of the left hemisphere. If that development is not successful, then later learning may be restricted to the right hemisphere.

Rymer, R. (1993). Genie: An abused child’s flight from silence. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
Galda, L., Cullinan, B.E., & Strickland, D.S. (1993). Language, literacy, and the child. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, Brace, & Company.
Pines, M. (1997). The civilizing of genie. Retrieved from
Berk, L.E. (2010). Exploring lifespan development (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

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