The Story of My Life by Helen Keller

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What were the problems faced by Helen Keller?  

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Domenick Franecki eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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When Helen Keller was young, she was struck with an illness that made her blind and deaf. As a result, she found it difficult to communicate anything other than her most basic wants. To solve this problem, Keller learned from her teacher, Anne Sullivan, how to express herself by writing signs on another's palm. This process, including learning the idioms and expressions involved in everyday conversation, took many years and a great deal of practice. She also learned to speak; she had spoken before her illness as a young child but had to learn again to use her voice.

She also had to prepare to enter Radcliffe, the women's school associated with Harvard. The problem was that Anne Sullivan could not sign all the words in the books Helen Keller had to read, and the books had to be embossed in Braille, which took some time. Her studies presented obstacles, as she had to use a Braille writer at times, and she had to draw mathematical figures on a cushion with wires because she couldn't see the figures on the board. It was also difficult for her to understand the Braille symbols for numbers and figures. She eventually overcame these obstacles and was admitted to Radcliffe.

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carolynosborne eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Helen Keller faced many problems, which she recounts in her autobiography, The Story of My Life. All these problems center around being blind and deaf, which occurred when Keller was a very young child.

Initially, Helen had no language with which she could communicate to her family. She learned to talk a little before going blind and deaf due to illness, but she could no longer hear her family. This meant her behavior was often challenging. She threw temper tantrums, and her family members gave into her desires in order to avoid these. 

Annie Sullivan, her teacher, tamed the temper tantrums by not giving into them, and Sullivan worked diligently with Helen on developing language through finger spelling. Ultimately, Helen made that connection at the well, with water running over her hands. After her acquisition of language, Helen's behavior was significantly better because she was able to communicate. 

Even though Helen could communicate, she did have other challenges in her life. There was the challenge of learning about the world when she was missing two senses. Annie Sullivan had her experience as many things as possible. 

There were educational challenges. For example, Helen wanted to learn to speak. She received help from a speech specialist and did learn to use her voice. 

Helen ultimately went to Radcliffe, the sister college of Harvard. Annie Sullivan was one of the people who helped Helen "read" her text books by spelling the words into her hand. After multiple operations, though, Annie's eyes were weak, and she struggled to help Helen.

Helen Keller spent her entire life overcoming challenges and also reaching out to people and inspiring them. 

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