Early childhood is the most important phase of development in one’s lifespan as the experiences during childhood sets the course for later stages of development. It has been noted that a mother’s actions during pregnancy may influence the development of an infant. The developmental influences include prenatal, perinatal and neonatal environments. (Santrock, 2002) Although babies come into the world with no say or control over which family they will be placed into, or the environment in which they will begin to live in, theorists agree that the first two years are crucial, with early emotional, physical and social development influenced by the infant’s biological and environmental factors (Sigelman, Rider, & De-George Walker, 2013). The movie ‘Losing Isaiah’ is an indication of the importance of early childhood development and this paper will look at some of the events in Isaiah’s childhood that influenced his development.
His drug addicted mother left Isaiah overnight in a box amongst the rubbish bins, while she went off to find drugs. He was found in the morning by rubbish collection workers and was sent to the hospital. This was significant in his physical development as evidence on cocaine suggests that prenatally exposed babies develop lasting difficulties (Berk, 2010). Other factors that could have affected Isaiah were malnutrition and poor healthcare due to his mother’s low socio- economic status, as research states cocaine users often take several drugs, display other high risk behaviors, suffer poverty and other stresses and engage in insensitive caregiving – factors that worsen outcomes for children (Jones as cited in Berk, 2010). ). On arrival at the hospital, Isaiah experienced difficulty breathing and had seizures while the doctors were trying to resuscitate him. This may have been caused by his cocaine addiction, as it has been noted that infants whose mothers are addicted to cocaine are born addicted (Berk, 2010). Research also suggests cocaine constricts the blood vessels, causing oxygen delivered to the developing organisms to fall for 15 minutes following a high dose and it can also alter the production and functioning of neurons in a fetus’ brain and these effects can contribute to an array of cocaine – associated physical defects, including eye, bone, genital, urinary tract, kidney and heart deformities, brain hemorrhages, seizures and severe growth retardation (Covington, 2002; Feng, 2005; Mayes 1999; as cited in Berk, 2010). From this we can understand that drugs can hinder a child’s physical development, and sometime also affecting cognitive and psychosocial in later stages of life. Isaiah’s survival was tenuous due to his mother’s cocaine addiction during pregnancy, but the hospital staff managed to restore him to better health, and while he was recovering in intensive care he was very irritable and cried a lot. Berk (2010) claims that low birth weight infants “are irritable during the short, unpredictable periods in which they are awake”. Luckily one social worker fell in love with Isaiah while he was in hospital and nurtured him to health and finally decided to adopt him.
Being adopted by a middle class family was another significant part of Isaiah’s cognitive and physical development, although as noted in the movie, he was still irritable when he was first brought home. The change in environment helped Isaiah develop very well into toddlerhood. Miller (1997) discussed the critical importance of positive mother and infant interactions and improved postnatal environment is in order to afford the child optimal opportunities for development. Isaiah seemed very happy and well developed, during his interactions with his family and his behavior was like that of a normal child. This reminds us of the nature and nurture debate, (Burton, Westen & Kowalski, 2012) which raises the question if biology or the environment contributed to Isaiah’s cognitive development. Through observation it was clear...
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