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Jean Itard: The first Child and Youth Care Counsellor

It has been suggested that child and youth care needs to honour its heroes and progenitors. In this paper Dennis McDermott argues that Jean Itard could be considered the earliest of child and youth care counsellors.

As a new teacher of child and youth counsellors (Child and Youth Care Workers), I got my first (and present) full-time teaching job in Kingston, Ontario in 1976. That same year, Kingston was celebrating its tercentenary. Although there were no 300-year-old buildings left, there were plenty that dated from the early 1800s, and there was an institution in town, Sunnyside Children’s Centre, which had been in operation since 1856.

Working in this historical setting and supervising Child and Youth Care Worker students at this 120-year-old agency probably contributed to my interest in the history of Child and Youth Care Workers. No doubt, I was also a bit put off by my own Child and Youth Care Worker training, in which most instructors treated Bruno Bettelheim as the "father" of child and youth work. The idea that our history only went back to the 1940s, and originated with a psychiatrist (a profession I certainly had mixed feelings about), just didn’t sit well with me.

If some form of child and youth work had been going on in my own town for a century before Bettelheim, I figured the origins of our profession must have been at least that old. Armed with this belief, I set about looking for references to any form of humane treatment of disturbed, delinquent, or otherwise troubled kids preceding the 20th century—looking for the real founder of child and youth work.

Locally, I found some intriguing material about problem children during the period of Sunnyside’s establishment, the 1840s to the 1880s. Our famous Kingston Penitentiary, for instance, had been "home" to kids as young as eight years old in the 1840s. In the 1850s, drug abuse was a problem amongst teens in Kingston—they were mixing laudanum (an opium derivative) with whisky to get high. Sunnyside, then called the Orphans’ Home and Widows’ Friend Society, had been set up to deal with abandoned, destitute, or otherwise homeless kids. I also found accounts of young teenagers in the records of Rockwood, the local insane asylum in the 1880s.

But it wasn’t until I decided to look into the history of feral children that I really felt I had found the best candidate for the title of "Founder of Child and Youth Work"—Jean-Marc Gaspard Itard. Here was a person I could really relate to. He worked intensively in a residential setting. His "client" was so unsocialized that he had been given the name "The Wild Boy." His methods were such models of good childcare work that they are, or could be, used today—but he was working between 1801 and 1806.


The context
We might never have known about Itard and the Wild Boy had it not been for the political and social climate of Itard’s homeland, France, at the end of the 18th century. Itard’s professional life coincided with one of the most revolutionary times in French history, the decades immediately after 1789, the French Revolution. Not only were new political ideas being put forth, but there was also a revolution in thought taking place, about the nature of humankind and how to treat its afflictions.

In the field of what we now call social services, a movement had begun in England and Europe called "moral therapy." A better modern-day translation of the French term thérapiee morale would be "psychological therapy" or "mental therapy." The basic idea behind this movement was to treat disturbed people as people, to treat them humanely rather than cage, chain, beat, or otherwise treat them as crazed animals. In the 1790s in France, the leading moral therapist was Phillipe Pinel. As superintendent of an insane asylum at Bicêtre (in Paris), he was taking the revolutionary step (some said, "insane" step) of unchaining mental patients. He believed that the freedom to move about outdoors—"freedom and fresh air"—was one of the best ways to treat those with mental disorders.

Into this atmosphere of revolutionary philosophical and scientific inquiry stepped the Wild Boy of Aveyron. It was Phillipe Pinel himself who was first commissioned to examine the boy. The name "Wild Boy of Aveyron" was given to him because he was first discovered and captured by hunters in Saint-Sernin, a town in Aveyron province in the mountainous region of southwestern France. At the time of his capture, he was naked, speechless, and filthy and so wild and unsocialized that many people thought he must have been raised by animals, a true "feral child." As attractive as this notion of a child raised by wolves or bears was (and still is to some), there is not a shred of evidence to support it.

Nevertheless, because the boy promised to be a perfect example of a "noble savage," Pinel and other leading social scientists of the day (members of a group called "The Society of Observers of Man") wanted to see him. They insisted that he be brought 500 miles north to Paris for examination. The popular and scientific stir created by the Wild Boy’s arrival in Paris soon died down when Pinel reported the findings of his examination. According to Pinel, Victor was simply a profoundly retarded boy, "an incurable idiot, a hopeless case" (Shattuck, 1980, p. 70).

Attending the conference in which Pinel gave his diagnosis was a young medical student, Jean Itard. For whatever reason, perhaps to prove Pinel wrong (a motivation not foreign to present-day Child and Youth Care Workers), Itard said he would like to work with the boy. So the Wild Boy was sent to live at the Institute for Deaf Mutes in Paris where Itard was the resident medical staff person. In some ways this was an appropriate placement for the boy, because he was essentially mute. However, his hearing was unimpaired, and because he had a preference for the spoken "oh" sound (similar to the "-or" in the French pronunciation of "Victor"), Itard gave him that name, which he kept to the end of his life.

Another key figure in Victor’s life at the Institute was a woman named Madame Guerin. She appears to have been a housekeeper for Itard and was in many respects his assistant. For Victor, she was obviously the closest thing he had to a mother. From Itard’s account, there was a strong rapport between her and Victor, and as Shattuck (1980, p. 76) notes, "She was always there, physically and emotionally."

Itard (and Guerin) worked with Victor intensively from 1801 to 1806 and wrote two reports about his work under the title Rapport et memoires sur le Sauvage de l’Aveyron. These were translated into English by George and Muriel Humphrey under the title, The Wild Boy of Aveyron (Itard, 1962). Although the translation is in somewhat antiquated English (and inaccurately done, according to Shattuck, 1980), Child and Youth Care Workers will find it fascinating reading. Many of Itard’s methods and concerns sound quite modern. At one point, for instance, he uses backrubs to comfort Victor and then begins to worry about the sexually arousing effect they might have—a situation many modern-day Child and Youth Care Workers have had to confront.

Victor was probably born around 1789 because he had the size and appearance of a 12-year-old when he arrived in Paris. His life prior to his capture in Saint-Sernin is a matter of conjecture. However, in the past decade or two, various investigators (Lane, 1976; Gineste & Postel, 1980; Shattuck, 1980) have been scouring archives in Paris and towns in southern France to piece together his life story. So far, it appears that he may have been abandoned by his parents. There are records of a child in the area who "did not have the gift of speech" and who may have been taken out in the forest to be killed. Victor had a shallow, healed-over scar across his throat when he came to Itard, suggesting that the "killer" did not want to follow through with the deed.

After his abandonment, at the age of seven or so, it is likely that he was taken in by, or got food and shelter from, various farmers in the area. There are accounts of a boy being seen regularly throughout the region at the time. There is even one account of a woman who took such a boy in for a while, teaching him how to boil potatoes (one of Victor’s favourite foods) and giving him some clothing. Victor had the tattered remains of a shirt around his neck at the time of his capture.

Whatever socialization Victor got through these years, it was certainly not much. When he began his life with Itard, he wore no clothes and eliminated by squatting outside on the ground. He could not sit on a chair or use eating utensils. His speech consisted of guttural sounds and squeals. In fact, were Itard to write up an assessment report in present-day format it would look something like the following, and leave no mistake that Victor was a challenging and appropriate "client" for a Child and Youth Care Worker.

Physical description and general personality
Victor seems to be a very asocial boy. He does not make eye contact, he crouches in a corner away from people and has regularly attempted to run away from his caretakers. Often he seems totally oblivious of others. On a few occasions (e.g., when stopped from running away) he has bitten and scratched. Otherwise, he is not usually aggressive.

Victor can be quite moody; within a few hours he has been seen to go from joyful squealing or frantic rage to quiet swaying as if daydreaming. This seems to be done in relation to the natural environment; when the sun comes out, or there is a fresh snowfall, he is ecstatically happy; when the weather is cloudy, he will sit, rocking, head down, by the window.

Physically, he is of average height and weight for a pubescent boy and seems to be in good or even exceptional health. For example, he has had none of the usual colds, flu, and the like, even though at times he has run out in the snow with no clothes on.

Since he often refuses to wear clothes and is difficult to bathe, it is hard to comment on his appearance other than his physical characteristics. He has a number of small scars on his arms, legs, face, and torso, and a few larger, deeper ones (24 in all). One noticeable but superficial scar runs across his throat, at the top of his neck, about 1 1/2 inches long and well healed over.

Relationship to adults/authority
Victor’s relationships with adults seem to be primarily utilitarian— he only interacts with them when he wants something, usually food or a walk outside. Because he cannot speak, these interactions are always carried out by gestures.

Though he seems to have little interest in adults socially, he is not particularly antisocial, simply uninterested. He has been described by previous workers [his caretakers in Aveyron before he came to Paris] as "harmless" and "innocent." His stealing and hiding food are done relatively openly and are not considered defiant. His attempts to run are done in a similar way, more for the joy of being outside.

The only example of his being hostile with adults occurred just prior to his coming here. At one point he was kept on a leash to stop his running, and another time his movements were restricted while ministry officials "inspected" him. At these times he began to bite and scratch.

When alone with one or two adults and with some freedom to move about the house and yard, he is generally agreeable and on a couple of occasions has responded pleasurably to being tickled. Lately he seems to be forming an attachment with a motherly female worker [Guerin].

Relationship to peers
There is little to report on his peer interactions—he has had none. He has shown no interest in any young people of any age or either sex. It is difficult at this point to say whether he actively avoids them or is simply unaware of them. It should also be pointed out that the has had little, if any, opportunity to spend time alone with his peers.

Response to activities
Victor’s interests are very basic. Any activity involving food or running outside takes up his total attention. Otherwise, he seems to have no other interests except perhaps watching nature; he often gazes at the sky, sun, moon, or a small pond nearby. The usual toys and games for his age group are of no interest to him. The only game he showed interest in was a set of wooden bowling pins. However, his interest turned out to be not the game but the pins themselves; he put them in the fireplace to make the fire bigger. With other games he has been shown, he is either uninterested or tries to hide or destroy them.

His fine motor abilities are considerable when it comes to food; he can very deftly and quickly shell peas, beans, and nuts to cook or eat. His coordination and gross motor abilities also seem quite adequate for his age. He is a fast runner and can climb trees quickly— activities he particularly enjoys. His running seems unaffected by the slight inward turn of his right leg when running or walking.

Response to routines
Victor is a very light sleeper, taking two to three hours to get to sleep and then rising early. On a few occasions he has been found sitting up, awake at his window, in the middle of the night. He is completely unaware of personal hygiene, neither washing or bathing voluntarily, nor for that matter, wearing any clothes voluntarily. At night he wets and occasionally soils the bed, but in the daytime he will go outside and eliminate in the garden.

At mealtimes he seems to have little patience for, or knowledge about, sitting on a chair. His usual approach to food is to grab what he wants (usually nuts, potatoes, beans, and bread, and occasionally meat, cooked or raw) either at the table or right out of the pot in which it is cooking. A number of times he has grabbed and eaten boiling hot potatoes, without showing any pain. This insensitivity to pain and discomfort occurs in other situations as well: for example, lying in a cold, wet bed; running naked in freezing weather; and sniffing pepper without sneezing.

Generally Victor seems to have no sense of routine, responding only to his own needs as they arise, whether they be eating, sleeping, or eliminating.

Academic/cognitive functioning
Since Victor does not speak, any estimation of his cognitive ability has to be based on his behaviour. Since he seems to have survived for an extended period of time alone in the woods, I would say that he has a reasonable level of intelligence. He has definitely shown his potential for sustained attention in his ability to sit and work concertedly to prepare foods he likes.

Also in relation to food, he quickly mastered a variation of the "shell game." He was able to swiftly and correctly choose, from a number of overturned cups, the cup with the nut under it, even though the order of the cups was changed a number of times. His ability to imitate certain actions and to gesture for his wants suggests potential cognitive abilities as well. Nevertheless, in tests by the members of the Society of the Observers of Man, Victor was diagnosed as profoundly retarded.

In other medical tests by Itard, there appears to be no organic reason for his inability to speak. Hearing deficit has also been ruled out as a cause, because he does respond to the slightest sounds if they signal food (e.g., the cracking of a nut in a distant room). Nevertheless, his hearing is at least unusual in that he has not reacted at all to sudden, loud noises (e.g., thunder or a gun fired close behind him).

One last sensory peculiarity should also be mentioned. He seems to have a keen sense of smell and uses this to learn about his environment. He has a habit of first sniffing whatever is presented to him.

After almost six years with Itard and Guerin, Victor bore little resemblance to the picture presented above. He wore clothes, slept in a bed, used a washroom, and ate at a table with utensils. He could be taken for walks, for visits to Itard’s friends, and to restaurants, without appearing too out of place. There is one mention, though, of Victor attending a dinner party of Parisian socialites that didn’t go so well. Early in the dinner, Victor grabbed handfuls of the fruits and nuts on the table, ran off into the garden, climbed a tree, and proceeded to enjoy his dinner his way.

If Victor occasionally regressed, there were at least two other areas in which he barely progressed: his speech and his social skills with peers. Although Victor could gesture expertly for what he wanted, he never really developed speech. As for his peers, there is little mention of them in Itard’s records, but it is known that Victor never married. What is known (from recent research) is that he stayed on with Guerin at the Institute until he was about 21 (June, 1811).

At that point, Victor and Guerin moved to a house a few blocks away, where he lived with Guerin and her family until his death at about 40, in 1828. The French government paid for his care until the end. Ten years later (1838) Itard died, having himself changed considerably since his early days with Victor.


Jean-Marc Gaspard Itard was born in the small town of Oraison in Provence, a province in southeastern France, in 1774. In 1796, at the age of 22, he moved to Paris to study medicine. Midway through this process, Itard was hired by Abbe Sicard, the director of the Institute for Deaf Mutes in Paris, to be the resident medical staff person of the Institute. Itard must have been a promising student, because Sicard was an influential person and well-known educator of the deaf.

Victor arrived at the Institute in the fall of 1800, and within a few months Pinel had finished his (dire) assessment of him and Itard began working with Victor. In 1801, Itard wrote his first report on Victor for the French government, and ended his work in 1806 with a second report.

Having completed his medical training in 1803, Itard went on to a brilliant career in otorhinolaryngology, "the unpronounceable medical specialty ... [involving] the study and treatment of ear, nose and throat" (Shattuck, 1980, p. 71). In 1821, Itard published the work for which he is most famous in medical circles, Treatise on maladies of the ear and hearing.
Though Victor was obviously very influential in shaping Itard’s life (and vice versa), Itard writes nothing further about him except for a reference in an 1828 paper in mutism. In this, Itard "implies he may have been ‘mistaken’ in believing he could train the Wild Boy adequately" (Shattuck, 1980, p. 67).

With all this reference to the medical aspects of Itard’s life and involvement with Victor, it may seem odd to consider Itard as a founder of child and youth work. However, Itard’s interest in, and pioneering of, the remediation and treatment of exceptionalities is clear. One of the major investigators of Itard’s life, and work with Victor in particular, Lane (1976) summarizes Itard’s contributions as "the inventor of behaviour modification... creator of oral education for the deaf, and father of special education for the mentally and physically handicapped" (p. 285).

But what is particularly "child care" about Itard ? The fact is, plenty. If we begin with the rather simple, but profound, definition of child and youth work offered by Gilmour-Barrett and Pratt (1977), it becomes obvious. They summarize the "expertise of the child care worker [as] the whole collage of skills involved in getting a disturbed child happily through the day" (p. 76).

Applying this definition piece by piece to Itard’s work should make it clear that he certainly was a Child and Youth Care Worker. To begin with, there is the client ("a disturbed child"). The earlier "assessment" of Victor should leave little question on this issue. In fact, Bettelheim (1967) himself reviewed Victor’s case and considered him to be autistic (i.e., early infantile autism).

If Itard’s client was "right" for child and youth work, what about Itard’s way of working? Can it be considered truly "child care"? Going back to Gilmour-Barrett and Pratt’s definition, there are, it seems to me, two basic elements in it: the general orientation of child and youth work, and the actual methods themselves.

Itard’s Child and Youth Care Worker orientation
In the definition, the simple qualifier "happily" summarizes for me the Child and Youth Care Worker orientation of being need-fulfilling, whether the need be seen as emotional, developmental, or whatever. "Meeting the child where he’s at" is another way this orientation has been expressed. Itard certainly had this intention; he says that he planned "to treat him kindly and to exercise great consideration for his tastes and inclinations" (1962, p. 11). This is even more noteworthy when one remembers that this was in 1801, a time when being kindly towards children, especially "foundlings," was not in fashion.

And Itard followed through on his intentions, "supplying him abundantly with foods to his taste, respecting his indolence ["giving him space"], and by accompanying him whenever possible for walks, or rather scampers, no matter what the weather was" (1962, p. 12). This consideration for the child’s needs sounds like it is right out of a Child and Youth Care Worker textbook. Bettelheim (1950), for instance, would have little to argue with in Itard’s approach.

Itard’s methods: Therapeutic routines
If Itard’s general orientation seems to reflect a fundamentally Child and Youth Care Worker approach, it seems evident from his reports that his "collage of skills" looks a lot like those found in many of the foundation texts in child and youth care. Take, for instance, Bettelheim’s (1950) emphasis on the therapeutic use of daily routines. Itard used daily backrubs as mentioned earlier. He also helped Victor get "happily through" the daily bath routine. He describes (1962, p. 18) how he would fill a wooden bowl with Victor’s favourite drink, milk, and place the "milk-boat" in the end of the bath. Then he would let the waves of the bath water slowly float the bowl towards Victor, "amid cries of delight."

Itard, like many Child and Youth Care Workers, also used what we would now call "natural consequences" to teach routines related to hygiene. To deal with Victor’s bed-wetting, for instance, Itard let nature take its course; "the certainty of passing the night in a cold wet bed accustomed him to get up in order to satisfy his needs" (1962, p. 16).

Itard’s methods: Child management
Itard seemed to have developed quite a repertoire of child management skills, probably out of necessity. Besides using natural and logical consequences, he also developed a number of techniques that we would now call behaviour modification. Lane (1976) has done a detailed study of Itard’s use of these techniques, especially in relation to teaching Victor shapes, colours, letters, and other concepts and cognitive skills.

However, Itard’s use of "aversive stimulation" ("punishment" in behavioural terms), though rarely used with Victor, provides a gripping example of this technique. It occurred during what became a series of escalating temper tantrums by Victor. Itard was trying to teach Victor the alphabet. Victor was having difficulty with this and became increasingly resistive. One day, at its peak, Victor had bitten into his sheets and blankets, thrown ashes and hot coals around, and ended up screaming and kicking ("falling into convulsions"). Probably frustrated and feeling that things were getting out of hand (a sentiment many Child and Youth Care Workers can relate to), Itard reacted:

I violently threw open the window of his room, which was on the fifth floor overlooking some boulders directly below.., and grabbing him forcibly by the hips I held him out of the window, his head facing directly down toward the bottom of the chasm. After some seconds I drew him in again. He was pale, covered with a cold sweat... I made him gather up all the [alphabet] cards and replace them all. This was done very slowly ... but at least without impatience. (Lane, 1976, pp. 120—121)

The more usual present-day Child and Youth Care Worker technique might be physical restraint ("holding"), so Itard’s method may seem extreme. However, in the context of his time, Itard’s actions would be considered relatively humane (coinpared to beating, mechanical restraint, or lengthy isolation). Regardless, the essentials of a temper tantrum situation are classic child and youth work.

Itard’s methods: Activities
The therapeutic use of activities has been a standard element in the Child and Youth Care Worker’s "melange of skills" for decades (Redl & Wineman, 1952). Here, too, Itard showed himself to be a true Child and Youth Care Worker. He always seemed to be finding ways to promote Victor’s development through various spontaneous or planned activities.

One such activity Itard devised was a variation of the shell game. It took place regularly after mealtimes and was used to increase Victor’s attention span and memory. Capitalizing on Victor’s appetite for chestnuts, Itard would place one under one of several cups he had overturned on the table; then he would rearrange the order and invite Victor to find the nut. As Victor’s skill progressed, Itard increased the complexity of the game until Victor could attend to a number of transpositions, involving more than one chestnut, for extended periods of time (Itard, 1962, p. 21).

Itard’s inventiveness in the use and adaptation of common materials to achieve therapeutic ends is especially evident in the activities he designed to promote Victor’s cognitive development. Lane (1976), p. 166) lists over 25 items that Itard "constructed or adapted for training."

But, as with all of us, not all of Itard’s ideas worked. He recounts, for instance, how his attempts to interest Victor in the game of ninepins ended. He left Victor to play with the wooden pins, only to return to find Victor had used them to make the fire in the fireplace burn brighter. Obviously Victor, like other kids in care, was able to adapt activities, too, to meet his needs.

There are other examples of Itard’s "failures" in his reports, but his biggest one he never really discusses—his failure to develop Victor’s relationships with peers. Although there were likely other children around, there is no mention of Victor being involved with them in any way. In the entire report there is only one reference to an age mate, Guerin’s daughter, Julie. She made regular Sunday visits to the Institute and afar these visits Victor was "often heard to repeat lii lii with an inflection of voice not without sweetness. It is surprising that the liquid 1 which for children is one of the most difficult to pronounce, should be one of the first that he has articulated" (Itard, 1962, p. 33).

No discussion of what defines child and youth work would be complete without some reference to the idea of relationship. Brendtro (1969) attempted to analyze this most fundamental but elusive aspect of child and youth work. His analysis contains three elements:

  1. communication, both verbal and nonverbal between two individuals, measurable in part by the number of private symbols developed between them;

  2. social reinforcement, "the increased susceptibility of one person (i.e., the child) to the other person (adult) as a source of social reinforcement," measurable by the child’s seeking approval and avoiding disapproval from the adult "when no concrete reward or punishment will be forthcoming" (p. 55); and

  3. modelling, the tendency of the child "to imitate or model certain behavior patterns of the specific adult" (p. 55).

Comparing these criteria with the details in Itard’s account, it would seem that Itard definitely established a relationship with Victor.

In many ways, trying to establish verbal communication was the ultimate goal of all of Itard’s work with Victor. Much of his report is devoted to explaining all the various tactics he used to teach speech. And Itard was the one who gave Victor the most basic element in communication—a personal name. By noticing that the Wild Boy quickly turned his head whenever a visitor one day exclaimed "Oh," Itard decided on a name with this sound (in the French pronunciation of "Victor," the "r" is essentially silent).

As for private symbols between them, some are mentioned in the report:

signs for "time to go for a walk," a greeting ritual when Itard returned in the evening at Victor’s bedtime, and the like. This bedtime ritual certainly suggests mutual affection. It involved Victor pulling Itard down to sit beside him, hugging Itard’s knees, and laughing, all of which Itard seemed to really enjoy. His enjoyment comes through the report, in spite of the rather pedantic nature of the report (written to a government official): "People may say what they like, but I will confess that I lend myself without ceremony to all this childish play" (Itard, 1962, p. 25).

Brendtro’s second element of a relationship, social reinforcement, is directly commented on by Itard. He says in his second report (after five years with Victor) that he has watched Victor go from someone who used hugs purely to get what he wanted, to someone whose hugs demonstrated genuine affection. Equally, he comments on Victor becoming genuinely remorseful after running away (and being jailed for two weeks as a vagrant), causing a great upset for Guerin and Itard.

The modelling aspect of a relationship is not really mentioned in Itard’s report, other than in teaching situations where Itard wants Victor to imitate something Itard is doing. The fact that so much of Itard’s work involved teaching, and that he seems always a step removed from intense involvement with Victor, has led Lane (1976) to characterize Itard as "the ultimate pedagogue.., devoted but not loving" (p. 163). Perhaps the fact that Victor did not model Itard (at least based on Itard’s report) suggests that there was not a truly meaningful relationship between them.

The one reference that does appear in the report concerning Victor’s spontaneous attempts to imitate is in relation to Guerin. "In moments of great happiness" Victor would attempt Guerin’s exclamation, "Oh Dieu!" And in the second report, Itard (1962) states that Victor’s affection "is to be noticed above all in his relations with Madame Guerin" (p. 91).

Does this mean that Guerin was more a Child and Youth Care Worker than Itard, or is it just a reflection of gender roles at the time? Answering these and other such questions is beyond the scope of this paper, but questions related to our history and the definition of our profession should be pursued. Perhaps future historians will be able to tell us more about Guerin, and we will be able to talk more accurately about the "co-founders" of child and youth work.


It seems to me that, in most essential aspects, Jean Itard was a child and youth counsellor and rightfully belongs in our history. Not only was he a pioneer in our field, he is, in many ways, a credible model of professionalism for our own times. Elsewhere, for instance, I have attempted to show how his work sets a standard for our profession and can be fruitfully examined for curriculum ideas to promote professional training (McDermott, 1985).

As Child and Youth Care Workers we have a well-documented historical figure in Itard, and it’s time we claimed him. Someone once said that it’s the winners who write history. Since it is becoming slowly but steadily evident that Child and Youth Care Workers are winners when it comes to practical approaches to problems of daily living for young people, it’s time we started writing history. And what better place to start than with Itard, an insightful, caring, professional?


Bettelheim, B. (1950). Love is not enough: The treatment of emotionally disturbed children. New York: Free Press.

Bettelheim, B. (1967). The empty fortress: Infantile autism and the birth of the self New York: Free Press.

Brendtro, L.K. (1969). Establishing relationship beachheads. In A.E. Trieschman, J.K. Whittaker, & L.K. Brendtro (Eds.), The other 23 hours (pp. 51—99). New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

Gilmour-Barrett, K., & Pratt, 5. (1977). A new profession. In J. Shamsie (Ed.), Experience and experiment (pp. 67-91). Toronto: Canadian Mental Health Association.

Gineste, T., & Postel, J. (1980). J.M.G. Itard et l’enfant connu sous le nom de "Sauvage de l’Aveyron." La Psychiatrie de l’enfant, 23.

Itard, J.M.G. (1962). The wild boy of Aveyron (G. Humphrey & M. Humphrey, Trans.). New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts (Original work published 1894).

Lane, H.L. (1976). The wild boy of Aveyron. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

McDermott, D.E. (1985). The work of Jean Itard as a model of professional child care work. (Available from D.E. McDermott, St. Lawrence College, King & Portsmouth, Kingston, ON, KTh 5A6)

Redl, F., & Wineman, D. (1952). Controls from within: Techniques for the treatment of the aggressive child. New York: Free Press.

Shattuck, R. (1980). The forbidden experiment: The story of the wild boy of Aveyron. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux.

This feature: McDermott, Dennis E. (1994). Jean Itard: The First Child and Youth Counsellor. Journal of Child and Youth Care, 9;1 59-71.