Anne Sulivan helps Helen Keller
Helen met Anne On March 3, 1887 Anne arrived at the house in Tuscumbia and for the first time met Helen Keller. Anne immediately started teaching Helen to finger spell. Spelling out the word “Doll” to signify a present she had brought with her for Helen. The next word she taught Helen was “Cake”. Although Helen could repeat these finger movements she could not quite understand what they meant. And while Anne was struggling trying to help her understand, she was also struggling to try and control Helen’s continuing bad behaviour.
Anne and Helen moved into a small cottage on the land of the main house to try and get Helen to improve her behaviour. Of particular concern were Helen’s table manners. She had taken to eating with her hands and from the plates of everyone at the table.
Anne’s attempts to improve Helen’s table manners and make her brush her own hair and button her shoes led to more and more temper tantrums. Anne punished these tantrums by refusing to “talk” with Helen by spelling words on her hands.
Over the coming weeks, however, Helen’s behaviour did begin to improve as a bond grew between the two. Then, after a month of Anne’s teaching, what the people of the time called a “miracle” occurred.
Helen had until now not yet fully understood the meaning of words. When Anne led her to the water pump on April 5,1887, all that was about to change.
As Anne pumped the water over Helen’s hand , Anne spelled out the word water in the girl’s free hand. Something about this explained the meaning of words within Helen, and Anne could immediately see in her face that she finally understood. From that point on, helen was excited to learn more words and expand her vocabulary. This led to her ability to communicate with others and to establish new relations
The two continued working together for the rest of Anne Sullivan’s life. She helped Keller get a college degree at Radcliffe College. Even after Sullivan married John A. Macy in 1905, she continued to be Keller’s companion. She supported Keller in her many writing and public speaking accomplishments. Anne Sullivan died on October 20, 1936, in Forest Hills, New York.