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Early neglect = major development delay

(59 Posts)
JumpandScore Sun 29-Nov-15 18:24:13

Friends adopted a little girl 2 years ago. She's now 4yo. Gorgeous smily little thing who had a terrible start. Basically spent her first year in a cot being ignored.

She's doing really well now and no behavioural problems have come to light but she is severely delayed. Speech and motor skills more like a 2yo.

Obviously, her start in life will have caused some problems but I am surprised just how severe they are.

Is this "normal"? It's made me think about how important the early years are and wonder where I went wrong/could have done better with my dc.

ImperialBlether Sun 29-Nov-15 18:27:11

Do you remember those poor children in Romanian orphanages? They were kept in similar conditions. I remember a woman who'd adopted one saying that if you adopted before the age of two, you could reverse the damage, but after that you just couldn't.

cuntycowfacemonkey Sun 29-Nov-15 18:29:45

Well assuming you didn't neglect your dc and they are showing no signs of developmental delay then I'm not sure there is anything to wonder about?

Obviously in your friends case there are very clear connections between early neglect and brain development. There's a ton of research out there that explains the impact.

JumpandScore Sun 29-Nov-15 18:53:47

My children do ok. It just made me wonder if I should have more of the baby Einstein/ classical music in the womb type things that I was v cynical about at the time, as those months clearly do make such a difference.

Thundercrackers Mon 30-Nov-15 21:56:23

There's a difference between not playing enough Mozart and extreme neglect though OP. I used to worry exactly the same way but you must just remember that your child is so lucky to have you there and that that is more important than any faddish development strategy. Mozart didn't have a chance to listen to copious Mozart as an infant and baby Einstein was Not A Thing when Albert was little. So don't worry- you will have done an amazing job smile

LibrariesGaveUsP0wer Mon 30-Nov-15 22:01:15

Severe neglect is damaging to children.

But that is a world away from flashcards and Mozart. Babies need attention, smiling faces, soothing voices. They need people to respond when they cry. It isn't a curve where the more you hot house them the better they 'turn out '.

VagueIdeas Mon 30-Nov-15 22:02:29

There's a difference between not playing enough Mozart and extreme neglect though OP

Exactly!

Those months are key in the sense that irreversible damage can be done if a child suffers extreme neglect during that time. They are not key in the sense that it's a "magic window" of potential, and if you expose your child to enough Baby Einstein, you'll have a genius on your hands. You've taken a bit of an imaginative leap, there!

LynetteScavo Mon 30-Nov-15 22:21:28

Mozart didn't have a chance to listen to copious Mozart as an infant

Haha! So true!

Also, this child my not genetically be destined to reach mile stones early.

I know of a child with a similar start to life, and is ahead of many of her peers aged 5. But maybe she would have been even further ahead if her early years had been different. I really don't know.

LucyBabs Mon 30-Nov-15 22:30:30

My godson was a child who was severely neglected as a baby and young toddler. He is my best friends child, she unfortunately passed away. The damage that was done to this poor little boy was shocking. He was left for hours in his cot in a dirty nappy. His parents ignored him. He was left to entertain himself, he slept a lot of the time.

He is almost 10 now and has major learning difficulties. His grandmother had to fight the Early intervention team as they wanted to diagnose (sp?) him with autism. Unfortunately autism and severe neglect can present in the same way in certain children.

op honestly we all worry about how we parent our children. I know I'm not neglectful but I still worry decisions I've made will affect my dc in a negative way.

sharoncarol43 Mon 30-Nov-15 22:32:15

severe early neglect is irreversible sadly. Children can "recover" but not in the sense of healing the brain damage, more in the sense of learning to live with it.

For example, as a foster carer I learnt that f a child has no sense of right nd wrong by 18 months, they NEVER will. That is not to say they cannot CHOOSE to follow social conventions and use moral guidelines they are taught, but it will be an academic teaching, not a gut feeling.

Children who are not touched, hugged, tickled, etc do not learn wherre the outline of their own body is, and this is hard to overcome too.

Children who don't get "babytalk", ie parents repeating things in exaggerated, loud, clearly pitched voices miss out on crucial stages of language development.

eg "WHERE is baby's din- dins??? HERE is baby's din- dins"

the reptition of syllables is extremely important, and most loving parents do it intuitively.

Children who are not cooed over by grandparents, friends and neighbours etc do not even learn that they are an individual entity which people notice and respond to.

This damage is VERY profound, and children do not recover.

sharoncarol43 Mon 30-Nov-15 22:34:08

Unfortunately autism and severe neglect can present in the same way in certain children.

yes, it is called "institutional autism" it is the same disability, the same brain abnormality, but has a different cause, obviously.

sharoncarol43 Mon 30-Nov-15 22:36:14

I still worry decisions I've made will affect my dc in a negative way.

I don't think you need to worry, nor anyone else on here. Normal amounts of love and and attempts to make the right judgements, even when in hindsight we have got some of them wrong, that gives children all they need to develop fully into themselves.

Paddingtonthebear Mon 30-Nov-15 22:43:41

Wow lots here I didn't know. How sad sad

ASAS Mon 30-Nov-15 22:46:24

Indeed, sadly once the neural pathways close they are lost forever.

Sharon, did you read today (BBC) the findings that fostered children academically out perform children who remain in chaotic families? I immediately wondered if that would raise the nature/nurture/culture issue on MN but I haven't seen anything yet.

sharoncarol43 Mon 30-Nov-15 22:48:44

no, ASAS I didn't read that. Will go and look for it now.

ASAS Mon 30-Nov-15 22:51:30

www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-34944973

For you Sharon, and any one else who is interested.

TesticleOfObjectivity Mon 30-Nov-15 22:52:52

The thought of neglected children breaks my heart. My nephew is adopted, he was taken from his parents at a few months old (or younger) and in foster care until he was 15 months when he moved in with sil and bil his adoptive parents. His language development has been very slow and he needs extra help at nursery and I often wonder whether this has been partly due to his start in life. I think when it comes to developmental issues, the problems arise out of neglect, not from lack of baby Einstein.

ASAS Mon 30-Nov-15 22:53:56

In interviews, foster children told the researchers that escaping abuse, hunger and intimidation - and gaining encouragement, discipline and the sense of being cared about, made the biggest difference.

mudandmayhem01 Mon 30-Nov-15 22:54:39

There is also some hope, with very intensive and specialist therapy attachment can be remodelled to a certain extent. My dh has been involved in this kind of work. The human brain is an amazing thing. For example a child under two is especially open to language acquisition, but older children and adults can still learn new languages but more slowly and using different pathways in the brain. Some of the most extreme evidence on attachment from Romanian orphanages has been discredited.You can never completely "cure" a neglected child but a lot can be done, lovebombing is also really interesting in this instance.

ASAS Mon 30-Nov-15 22:56:49

Yes, for anyone here worried about baby "activities" or lack thereof, the sort of situation that damages children can actually kill the adults. It's non-survivable at the most basic level.

I know of an adopted child who had never learned to cry.

SushiAndTheBanshees Mon 30-Nov-15 23:01:24

I actually think that the early months and years are so much more about the baby/toddler learning and growing emotionally than "academically". Very young children need love more than they need Baby Einstein.

A baby who has learned to be safe, secure, loved, supported structurally (eg fed regularly, kept clean and comfortable and warm etc) will find the headspace to go on to learn things like speech and communication. Babies who don't have those basic things in place just don't have the time or energy or wherewithal to learn language and other skills because they're too busy just getting through the the day, trying to make sense of what's going on around them.

This is my totally unqualified view, just my instinct. Any which way, it's just heartbreakingly sad.

PaintedTshirt Mon 30-Nov-15 23:25:51

Reading this thread just makes me want to go and squeeze my 1 and 3yo. The thought of a young baby ignored in its cot for hours and hours on end is just heartbreaking.

Especially at this time of year when people are worrying about buying presents etc. puts it all into perspective.

It's true, all you need is love.

Slippersandacuppa Mon 30-Nov-15 23:26:48

Do any of you remember that program about children waiting to be adopted - it was last year or the year before. There was a little boy on there who must have been two or three. No one had ever properly made eye contact with him or engaged with him in any positive way and, as a result, he had hardly any facial muscles. He physically couldn't smile.

Something my MIL said when I was pregnant with my first hit home. We were talking about happy hormones and how babies are much more aware in utero than you'd think. She's convinced that her very strained, although ultimately loving, relationship with her son (DH) is due to the fact that she went through a phase of not wanting to keep her unborn son (my DH) due to relationship issues. She's adamant that he picked up on that and, whilst never articulating as much, has always felt an undercurrent of not being wanted. Truth? Self-fulfilling prophecy? I don't know. But she has a feeling and it made me aim for as many happy hormones in pregnancy as possible.

Jollyjogger Mon 30-Nov-15 23:29:43

They say the first 7 years are the formative years.

I wonder if the parents had SEN possibly?

Postchildrenpregranny Mon 30-Nov-15 23:34:55

Friends adopted a little girl from China She was supposedly 2 but I and others thought probably nearer 18m . Subject to the sort of neglect one hears about .
She is now 18 has just gone off to Uni.Well- adjusted, happy, charming and likely to do well at Uni and in life . Love can indeed make up for an awful lot .
She might have been nearer the 'genius' level if she'd had a better start, who knows. But no one cares either .

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