Bringing Back the Child: Language Development after Extreme Deprivation (Children and Childhoods 4)

This book presents a unique, multi-faceted investigation of the language abilities of three older adopted Romanian orphans who experienced extreme deprivation in their early years. Serena, Gabrielle and Ingrid were aged 7 years, 6 years and nearly 4 years, respectively, when rescued by UK families from the orphanages where they were placed at or around their birth. In these institutions, an absence of social and psychological stimulation, nutritious food and physical exercise had left them completely dependent on care staff for their most basic needs, and effectively without language. The book presents the findings of a two year research study of the competencies in language, nonverbal cognition and social and communicative behaviour which the girls acquired over several years in their new homes, and discusses the implications of their linguistic progress for the Critical Period Hypothesis and modularity. Detailed qualitative analysis of the girls’ language in everyday conversation is combined with quantitative analysis of developmental progress and structural complexity and with the results of standardized tests. The authors argue that the girls’ progress in language defies the predictions of current Critical Period models and offers no evidence of modular dissociations between language and other cognitive domains. These findings are considered in relation to other research on language development in internationally adopted children.

This book is part of a series. View the full series, "Children and Childhoods", here.

Lisa Brown is a Chartered Research Psychologist (CPsychol) and a member of the British Psychological Society (BPS). Her background is in psychology, human communication sciences and mixed methods research. Lisa obtained her first degree at Sheffield Hallam University and then went to on to complete a postgraduate degree in Psychology with the Open University, obtaining a Distinction. Thereafter she completed her PhD in the Neuropsychology of Language at the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University. She has worked as a professional researcher on a number of multidisciplinary projects, including biomedical research and environmental education. Her expertise lies in applied psychology; applied linguistics; models of clinical psychology and neuropsychology; developmental approaches to assessment and intervention in clinical practice; psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics; community psychology; and qualitative methodology.

Peter Jones is Principal Lecturer in Communication Studies in the Department of Humanities, Sheffield Hallam University. His research interests include theories of language and communication, the role of language in practical activity and the cultural-historical school of Lev Vygotsky. His recent publications include “Activity, Activity Theory and the Marxian Legacy” in Marxism and Education: Renewing the Dialogue, Pedagogy and Culture, and “Bernstein’s “codes” and the linguistics of “deficit”” in Language and Education 27 (2).

"Drs Lisa Brown and Peter Jones have written a fascinating account of the effects of extreme social deprivation endured by three children during the earliest years of their lives. Like thousands of others, these children were sent to secret orphanages in the Romania of the Ceausescu regime of the 1980s. The book follows each of the children for about two years, from the ages of 10, 11 and 13 – several years after leaving Romania for a new life with their adoptive families in the UK. Brown and Jones focus on the language and cognitive development of the three children during this period of late childhood and, in doing so, address important practical and theoretical questions that will be of interest to parents, educators, speech and language therapists, developmental psychologists and linguists."

—Professor Thomas Klee, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

"The book offers hope even for children who suffer years of neglect, disadvantage and lack of human contact. It thus points in new directions: although these are only three children, they score 3SD below average on both visuo-spatial intelligence and measures of expressive language. While sensibly cautious in following Karmilloff-Smith in interpreting these as developmental outcomes, the findings suggest that, developmentally, the dimensions intertwine. On a similar tack, this evidence supports the view that the development of linguistic skills – and, especially abilities for complex manipulation of morphology and syntax – continues into adolescence. Though ‘Bringing Back the Child’ cannot show how this is possible, the findings point far beyond nativist inspired views of what is involved in learning to talk and, generally, doing things with (and without) words. "
—Professor Stephen J Cowley, Syddansk Universitet

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ISBN: 1-4438-5972-9

ISBN13: 978-1-4438-5972-1

Release Date: 22nd December 2014

Pages: 275

Price: £44.99


ISBN: 1-5275-7085-1

ISBN13: 978-1-5275-7085-6

Release Date: 8th October 2021

Pages: 272

Price: £19.99