American journalist Lane DeGregory was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her feature story in the St. Petersburg Times on July 31st, 2008. "The Girl in the Window" was a feral child discovered in Florida in 2005. The 6-year-old had not been raised by wolves - she had been severely neglected by her mother (photo here), whose parental rights were severed. Now DeGregory has published a follow-up, 3 years after her 1st story about Danielle and 4 years after the girl was adopted by Bernie and Diane Lierow of Tennessee. She attends a school with other special needs students where she participates in a vocational program, but she still doesn't recognize her classmates. She works one-one with a speech therapist and has seen occupational and behavioral specialists, but still doesn't speak. A victim of what the 1st psychologist to examine her called "environmental autism," Dani is still severely developmentally disabled, but has made some noticeable changes:
- She now makes eye contact and is more aware.
- She exhibits more trust and understanding.
- She sleeps through the night.
- She attends to her own personal hygiene, although she sometimes has to be reminded and needs help with things like brushing her teeth.
- She uses the bathroom on her own, but sometimes has accidents.
- She can get undressed, but still needs help putting her clothes on.
- She communicates non-verbally by refusing some things and reaching for others, but hasn't picked up sign language.
- She knows how to hold a book and turn the pages, and she will listen to a story, though she can't read.
- She can complete puzzles, climb fences, ride roller coasters, open doors, but has trouble sitting still.
- She can pour herself a cup of water, but is not allowed in the refrigerator and is still learning not to put anything in her mouth except food.
- She has fewer tantrums.
- She smiles and laughs.
Image, left: Dani Lierow on 2/3/08, right: Dani on 8/12/11, more before and after photos here.