5th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing

Sydney, Australia
November 30 - December 4, 1998

Language Development After Extreme Childhood Deprivation: A Case Study

Lisa-Jane Brown, John Locke, Peter Jones, Sandra P. Whiteside

Department of Human Communication Science, Sheffield University, UK

The atypical linguistic processing and cognitive development of previously institutionalised, adopted Romanian children are being researched using a neurolinguistic theory of development. Of particular concern is the Critical Period Hypothesis which holds that language capacity can only develop in response to relevant stimulation during a pre-determined period in childhood. The research impetus derives from the need to understand the course of first language acquisition in children who have suffered extreme deprivation at an early age. The purpose of this paper is to attempt to analyse what these children can tell us about the potential for language development in the face of such deprived circumstances. In order to examine this, a theory of neurolinguistic development will be applied to the case study of a formerly institutionalised Romanian child, Maria. A key question will be addressed: Has Maria's early deprivation set for her an irreversible path in terms of attaining normal language development?

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Brown, Lisa-Jane / Locke, John / Jones, Peter / Whiteside, Sandra P. (1998): "Language development after extreme childhood deprivation: a case study", In ICSLP-1998, paper 0791.