Ms. Sullivan understood Helen and taught her according to her abilities and needs. Comment on this statement in light of the innovative methods adopted by Ms. Sullivan.

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mrshh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ms. Sullivan did not arrive to teach Helen using traditional methods.  Helen could not see or hear, so she could not use those senses to learn.  Ms. Sullivan could not teach Helen to read letters or words on a page.  She could not tell her young pupil the letters of the alphabet and their accompanying sounds.

Ms. Sullivan instead taught Helen to communicate and to read using the manual alphabet.  This alphabet involved a hand sign for each letter of the alphabet.  Each sign was pressed into Helen's palm.  The letters formed words.  When Helen learned how to communicate using the manual alphabet, she pressed the letters into the palms of other people to speak to them.

In addition to teaching Helen how to communicate, Ms. Sullivan taught the girl how to behave.  When Helen wanted to take food off of Ms. Sullivan's plate using her bare hands, the teacher refused to let her.  Helen became enraged, but Ms. Sullivan was firm.  She insisted that Helen use a fork to eat off her own plate.

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The Story of My Life

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