Who Is The Girl In The Window?

Who is the girl in the window?
Lizzie Whitworth

July 3rds, 2007’s Primetime show featured a story entitled: The Face in the Window: A Ghost or a Little Girl? The caption online read: A young girl is found living among rats in a Texas ‘Haunted House’. The young girls name was Victoria and for years, people heard strange sounds coming from her house but never really saw anyone coming or going. At times, they saw a young girl in the window and out on the porch. They heard strange moaning and groaning sounds constantly. Austin’s Child Protective Services were called many times and upon visiting, the house was declared ‘unlivable”. Rats were all over the house – later, it was believed that Victoria learned to communicate from them, imitating their sounds.
At the age of 9, when she was taken from the house, she did not speak. Her mother suffered from mental health and developmental issues. She kept her daughter at home and away from others because she knew she was different and wanted to protect her. Among not speaking, Victoria did not wear clothes or use the toilet, and had never played outside. Upon leaving the rat infested house, Victoria was provided with hundreds of hours with therapists, counselors, and Language Pathologist Dena Granoff. Granoff states: "Clearly, her surroundings contributed to this significant delay, I don't really think you can actually ever make that determination, because whether somebody is mentally disabled from birth or as a result of a lack of stimulation, the brain doesn't develop properly. The end result is the same.”

Victoria’s Education and Progress

Along with intense therapy, Victoria was placed in the loving and caring home of the Venegas family in Austin. Her foster mother believed that had authorities recovered Victoria earlier, her condition would not have escalated the extent at which it had. This poses a very interesting question: Is this so? According to Pearl Buck, children with developmental disabilities are able to learn to the extent that would keep them out of institutions but rather on a vocational training path, holding a job one day and perhaps living with only some assistance from and dependence on others. The catch is, they need to be intellectually stimulated from the get go. It was a too late for Victoria – even though she made significant and huge strides in the Venegas home and at her Austin school, it is unknown if she will progress enough to live somewhat independently and hold some sort of job. Victoria was enrolled in special education classes and never learned to speak but she did learn to communicate through sign language. She still lives with the Venegas family; however, she has “aged out of foster care and her care is overseen by the Department for Disability and Aged Services”. Her court-appointed attorney helps run and oversee a trust fund on Victoria's behalf. He hopes she will, one day, be capable of living in a group home and possibly work in a volunteer position. However, he states, “much of her past will forever remain a mystery, locked in her own mind”.

Strides in the education of and possibilities for the developmentally disabled

Victoria’s made huge accomplishments for a young girl who was deprived of intellectual stimulation for the 1st 9 years of her life – the absolute most formative being the first 3 years of her life. Like Victoria’s attorney says, her future is undetermined. Will she able to retain enough life skills to live in a group home, with less supervision and dependence on others? Will she be able to hold a volunteer position, unpaid, but donating her time to an organization that needs it? I truly hope so – I believe that some repair has been made to Victoria’s life and condition – had she not been taken from her mother’s home – Victoria would not be able to contribute to or even experience society – family life, and school life. She has been given the above and proved to others that she is capable of learning. I hope that the more and more exposure people have to developmental delays and disabilities, the more they learn about them, and the more they teach and pass this along to others, the better opportunities will be for these people. When Pearl Buck published her book, people with developmental delays were placed in state institutions that treated them like animals, some fed them on the floor, and they went to the bathroom on the floor. No attempt to stimulate them was made whatsoever. Pearl Buck and other parents of these children knew that they deserved better, that their talents, and just their own being in itself, was enough worth and value to be respected and taken care of. Children with developmental delays now have individualized education plans and their futures have more potential. A number of big businesses have hired disabled workers, who stay at jobs much longer, saving some businesses millions of dollars on recruitment, hiring, and training.