The Boy Who Was Raised By A Dog: Skin HungerNikea C. Gaines
The University of South Carolina, College of Social Work
The Boy Who Was Raised By A Dog: Skin HungerFor this assignment, we focused on “Skin Hunger”, chapter four of Dr. Bruce Perry book The Boy Who Was Raised by A Dog. Dr. Perry is known for raising awareness on childhood trauma along with psychiatric issues. In the chapter it talks about a 4-year-old little girl name Laura. Even though she was in the hospital on a feeding tube she still only weighed 26 pounds. After doing numerous examinations the doctors and physicians believe that she had suffered from “infantile anorexia.” This was not the case for Laura, Dr. Perry discovered that she was actually suffering from “failure to thrive”. Failure to Thrive is defined as ‘lack of expected normal physical growth’ or ‘failure to gain weight’. This condition is most common in infants and not children Laura’s age.
Interventions and Feedback
Hearing the term “Failure to Thrive” really makes me upset. When I read about the diagnosis and what it was I was sad. All I could think about was how could Virginia not care about Laura. After reading the case thoroughly I seen everything Virginia went through as a child. She had no stability home or guardians. How could people even expect her to know how to raise a child with these conditions. I think it was a great idea for Dr. Perry to use ‘Mama P’ for Robert’s as well as Laura’s treatment intervention. Many of the individuals that were neglected or abused need physical stimulation. Since both of them missed their sensitive periods of development it is very essential they rocked and held. Like ‘Mama P’ stated in the reading, “is very important that you don’t interact with the children based on their age, but based on what they need, and may have missed during development.”
When Dr. Perry first recommended that Laura and Virginia move in with ‘Mama P’ I thought that it would have caused them to have even a bigger disconnect between the two but it actually did what it was supposed to do. The mother just had to be willing to do the intervention for her child to get better. When they moved in Laura made a tremendous change for the better. I think it is really intriguing how infants can stop growing and nurturing just by not getting enough love from parents and guardians. Never in a million years would I have thought that could happen. I hate the fact that they put Laura through so many treatment plans just for her only to need love and comfort. If I would the social worker in this case I would have did this intervention as well but still made the mother complete a few psychoeducation classes on nurturing for a child. Overall, the intervention was great for them.
While reading this case study there were so many questions that went through my head. All I could think about was how Virginia could have been a better mother if the system did not fail her and let her down. Prior to reading this case I no idea that in the past children who were in foster care had to change placements every six months so they would not get attached. I wanted to know how long this policy had been in place because it sounds like a lot this could have been very detrimental to a lot of infants. As we have learned in class, the attachment between an infant and caregiver usually forms around nine months. If an infant is moving around to different places every six months it is very hard for the child to form an attachment.
It amazes me that when Virginia was five years old she actually had a family and home settled in. Everything was perfect for them, they taught her everything she needed to know about life. She wanted to be adopted by them, and they wanted to adopt her but the system failed her yet again. The caseworker wanted to reunite her with her biological parent and the state never took the time to terminate the biological parents’ rights so she could be adopted. Due to the failure of the legal actions this caused them not to be responsible for Virginia anymore, she aged out of the systems. She had to leave the home and could not have any communication with her foster parents.
While reading this it made me very upset simply because she had someone that was willing to take her in but the state did not do their job. I really want to know is there a time limit on how long the parents have to turn over their rights. There should have been a rule or policy in place where it would have allowed the state to terminate the rights for the sake of the child. I believe if they did have those polices then Virginia would not have even been in the situation she was in and feed to the wolves with no help.
Another thing that had me baffled during this was the fact that Virginia actually took Laura to the hospital for medical attention when she was only eight weeks old. She found out that Laura was diagnosed with “failure to thrive” and received a stability for nutrition but no one ever explained to her what it was. When it was time to discharge they gave her advice for nutrition but no advice on mothering. Upon discharge Virginia was also supposed to receive a social worker but did never received one. It is the doctors job to explain the diagnosis and provide advice. Why would she never provided those resources or why was her social worker never ordered? This was pure neglect on their part. Overall, if the system never failed her this would not have happened nor would it have lasted for as long as it did.
Dr. Penney thank you so much for assigning this case study, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Last Friday, I found out that I was seven weeks pregnant and this assignment could not have come at a better time. This gave me a better insight of would not to do with my child. This makes me want to love and touch on it all day. I could not thank you enough!
Perry, B. D., & Szalavitz, M. (2006). The boy who was raised as a dog and other stories from a child psychiatrist’s notebook: What traumatized children can teach us about loss, love, and healing. New York, NY, US: Basic Books.
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