Feral children are children who have lived isolated from human contact starting from a very young age. Their separation from society may be the result of being lost, abandoned, or even taken away by animals. Sometimes abandonment is apparently due to parents rejecting a child's severe intellectual impairment or physical disability. Some feral children experience child abuse or trauma before being abandoned.
There are reports of such children living with or being reared by wild animals. Legend and fiction also suggest that wolves, bears, or other normally hostile animals often adopt feral children as one of their own. Science, however, has found very few such cases to study.
In mythology and literature (in legend and fiction), feral children often grow up with not only normal human intelligence, but also a healthy dose of survival instincts. Integrating them into human society is supposed to be relatively easy. In reality, however, feral children often seem mentally impaired, and in particular have almost insurmountable trouble learning a human language. They also lack any number of social skills. Some scholars claim that many of these differences should be explained by the hypothesis that abandoned children are on average much more impaired (at birth) than non-abandoned children. In any case, converting a feral child into a relatively normal member of any human society is usually unworkable.