Peter the Wild Boy
Many years ago, Peter (no one knows if that was his real name) caused a sensation. The boy, believed to have been around age 11, could not talk. He couldn’t walk upright – instead, he scampered about on all fours. He was also known as a pickpocket. In 1978 people tried to determine what was wrong with the boy. This was at the early times that autism was being studied, and some people felt he was autistic.
It was determined that Peter had Pitt-Hopkins Syndrome. This was based on his short stature along with his mop of lustrous, thick curly hair. It was also based on his hooded eyelids as well as his Cupid’s bow mouth, which means he had a pronounced curve to the upper lip. He hated to wear clothes, and his care providers fought with him daily to put on his green suit. His fingers on the left hand were fused.
Peter Is Found
The boy was found naked, living alone, in a German forest in 1725. Authorities agreed that he had been abandoned by his parents. Some people believed he had been raised by either wolves or bears. They gave that upbringing as the reason he ate with his hands, disliked wearing clothes, and could not be taught to speak.
Peter The Wild Boy
He was given the name of Peter the Wild Boy. A year after he was found, he was taken to London at the request of George l. In his new home, he became a “human pet,” living at Kensington Palace. Today his portrait, painted by William Kent, hangs in Kensington Palace. While living there, he continued to enjoy picking a pocket once in a while. On one occasion, he played with a glove belonging to Caroline, the Princess of Wales. He became fascinated with her pocket watch. He wanted it, and he attempted to pick it out of her glove. Another time he took the hat belonging to Lord Chamberlain and put it on in front of the king. Although it is said he had minimal mental abilities, he obviously was capable of performing some acts requiring the use of his brain.
Peter Does Not Seem To Show Progress
One day the king invited Peter to eat with him. It turned out that the king was horrified by his lack of etiquette and table manners. The court doctor attempted but failed to teach him to speak. Every day the courtiers had to wrestle the boy to put him into his green velvet suit. They also had a difficult time each evening of getting Peter to bed. Peter declined to sleep in a bed. Instead, he curled himself up on the floor in the corner of his room. Everyone eventually gave up and decided they could not civilize the boy.
Peter Is Retired
His novelty as a pet eventually ended, and Peter was retired to a Hertfordshire farm. After he died, it is estimated he was in his 70’s, the community paid for a headstone. It simply reads, “Peter the Wild Boy.” Today people continue to take flowers to lay on his grave. Everyone who knew Peter said he was a very gentle character.
Compared to many others, his life was pretty exciting, after roaming the forests and ending up living in a palace.