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Helen Keller Deaf Resources 1

Helen Keller was born on June 27, 1880 in the town of Tuscumbia, which is located in Northwest Alabama and was a small rural town. Her father, Captain Arthur Henley Keller, was the owner of a small cotton plantation and Helen’s mother, Kate Adams Keller worked helping her husband and selling items such as butter. They were an average family, with an average daughter who at 19 months old, was beginning to walk and talk like any other normal child.

Things changed for the family though when in February of 1882, Helen Keller fell ill. No one knew what was causing her illness, but she was very sick and running such a high fever, that they didn’t expect her to live. So, when Helen Keller’s family saw that her fever had broken they were overjoyed, but it wasn’t long before her mother noticed things just weren’t right. Helen did not respond to the dinner bell and when her mother waved her hand before her eyes, Helen did not even flinch. The illness had left her both deaf and blind.

Not knowing what was happening to her, Helen felt scared and began clinging to her mother’s dress in order to move around the house or yard. She would also wander about touching people’s hands so as to discover what they were doing. In this way, she learned to do many things herself. Things like kneading bread dough or milking a cow. She also made up sixty different signs so she could communicate with her family.

Unfortunately, Helen Keller was also a difficult youngster. She terrorized the family by smashing things and threw loud screaming tantrums when she became frustrated. Outside relatives couldn’t bear to be around her and thought she should be institutionalized.

At age six, the family was desperate. They weren’t sure what to do about Helen, but her mother had read American Notes by Charles Dickens and knew work had been done with another deaf child named Laura Bridgman. Because of this, Helen Keller would receive medical assistance and was on her way to a more normal life.