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When Bernie and Diane brought Danielle home, they realized the extent of Danielle's underdevelopment. "She was a couple months from being 8 years old," Diane says. "Developmentally, she was anywhere between 6 months to maybe 18 to 24 months, depending on the skill that was being evaluated."

During Danielle's first days in her new home, Bernie says she would throw tantrums seven or eight times a day. "She would scream at the top of her lungs, she would stomp, she would flail her arms, she would throw herself on the floor—they were pretty spectacular," Diane says.

Food was a constant concern for Danielle. "She was thinking about it all the time," Diane says. "As long as there was food out, she would eat it until she threw up. She would drink until she threw up. She didn't know when to quit, because she didn't know when she would see it again."

Instead of toys, Diane says Danielle would play with her shoes and socks. "Just sort of throw them around as if they were a toy. I don't think she understood that her shoes and socks weren't to play with," she says. "I don't think she really had much of anything to play with for a long time, so she just amused herself with whatever she could find, I guess."

Although she couldn't speak, Diane says she believes Danielle remembers her old life. "Yes, I do because when she first came, she would have nightmares. About every hour or two she would wake up screaming."
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FROM: The Little Girl Found Living Like an Animal
Published on March 03, 2009

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