Helen Keller was born on 27 June 1880 in Alabama. Her father was a newspaper editor. She was a lively and healthy child with a friendly personality. She could walk and even say a few simple words.
In 1882 she caught a fever that was so bad she almost died. When it was over she could no longer see or hear. Because she could not hear it was also very hard to speak. She was 18 months old when this happened.
But Helen was not someone who gave up easily. Soon she began to explore the world by using her other senses. She followed her mother wherever she went, hanging onto her skirts. She touched and smelled everything she came across and felt other people's hands to see what they were doing. She copied their actions and could do some jobs herself, like milking the cows or kneading dough. She even learnt to recognise people by feeling their faces or their clothes. She could also tell where she was in the garden by the smell of the different plants and the feel of the ground under her feet.
By the time she was seven she had invented over 60 different signs she could use to talk to her family. If she wanted bread for example she would pretend to cut a loaf and butter the slices. If she wanted ice cream she wrapped her arms around herself and pretended to shiver.
At the age of five Helen began to realise she was different from other people. She noticed that her family did not use signs like she did but talked with their mouths. Sometimes she stood between two people and touched their lips. She could not understand what they said and she could not make any understandable sounds herself. She wanted to talk but no matter how she tried she could not make herself understood. This made her so angry that she used to throw herself around the room, kicking and screaming in frustration.
The older she got the more frustrated she got and her rages got worse and worse. She became wild and hard to control. If she didn't get what she wanted she would throw tantrums until her family gave in. Her favourite tricks were grabbing other people's food from their plates and throwing breakable things on the floor. Once she even managed to lock her mother into the pantry. Eventually her family knew that something had to be done. So just before her seventh birthday the family hired a private tutor.
... middle of paper ...
...ations working with blind people overseas.
Without the help of others Helen Keller would never have succeeded the way she did. She relied a lot on Anne Sullivan, who went everywhere with her for almost fifty years.
But Helen Keller was very remarkable. She was very intelligent, sensitive and determined. She was the first deaf-blind person to make such a public success of her life. But she is not the only person with a hearing and sight impairment to succeed. She is only the best known.
Maybe her biggest success was in convincing other people that disability is not the end of the world. One Japanese lady said about her,
'For many generations, more than we can count, we bowed our heads and submitted to blindness and beggary. This blind and deaf woman lifts her head high and teaches us to win our way by work and laughter. She brings light and hope to the heart'.
I liked learning about Helen Keller because she worked hard and learned how to do things that most people thought blind and deaf people could not ever do. She found other ways to learn than the way most people do because she was handicapped, but she did not let it stop her.
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